Gustin breaks single-season BYU rebounding record in 61-49 loss to Portland
PROVO, Utah — The BYU women's basketball team fell to the Portland Pilots by a final score of 61-49 Monday afternoon at the Marriott Center in the final regular season West Coast Conference game of 2023.
"It came down to our Achilles heel tonight with turnovers," BYU head coach Amber Whiting said. "We need to fix those. Last game we took care of them, but tonight we didn't. We need to make sure the ball has meaning and work on closing out defensive opportunities."
While BYU (14-15, 9-9) showed fight in the second half, the Cougars' 19 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome, as Portland (21-8, 15-3) closed out the game at the free-throw line in the final minutes. The Pilots scored 23 points off BYU's giveaways.
Forward Lauren Gustin broke the BYU single-season rebounding record late in the first half, passing BYU Hall of Famer Tina Gunn Robison's mark of 462. Gustin finished with 24 on the night to also tie the Marriott Center record for the second time this year. Gusting ended the regular season with 478 rebounds heading into the league tournament.
Gustin scored 15 points on 6 of 14 shooting as well to lead BYU. It was her 25th double-double of the season.
Nani Falatea and Emma Calvert also helped carry the scoring load for the Cougars, as Falatea finished with 14 points including 4 of 8 from three, while Calvert contributed 10 points on 3 of 7 shooting.
The first quarter saw both teams struggle from the field, as BYU shot just 22 percent from the field opposed to Portland's 27 percent. BYU's defense helped stay in the game, forcing five turnovers by the Pilots, along with blocks by Gustin and Falatea.
The Cougars' two made field goals in the quarter came from Kaylee Smiler and Gustin layups in the first two minutes to take the early 4-0 lead. From there, the Cougars would be held without a field goal for the remainder of the period, while the Pilots went on a 9-0 run led by Liana Kaitu'u's personal 5-0 run.
Rose Bubakar ended the 6:43 scoring drought for the Cougars, burying two free-throws to end the quarter, as BYU trailed Portland by 3 heading into the second period, 9-6.
After committing seven turnovers in the first period, the Pilots forced BYU into six additional turnovers in the second, resulting in 17 points on the other end for Portland in the half.
The first made field goal of the quarter for the Cougars came with 3:13 remaining in the half by Gustin to cut the Pilot lead to 11. After holding Portland scoreless over the next two minutes, a turnover by Gustin led to another three for the Pilots, making the score 25-12 in favor of Portland. Kaitu'u led the way for the Pilots with 12 first half points.
BYU as a team shot 9 of 12 from the line in the first half to help keep them in the game. Calvert ended the period on a personal 4-0 run to tally five first half points, as the Cougars went into the half trailing Portland 28-17. Gustin led the way in the box score for the Cougars in the first half, scoring six points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
BYU showed energy coming out of the break, getting the scoring started in the third quarter with a Gustin layup off Arielle Mackey-Williams' assist to cut the Pilot lead to single digits at 28-19.
Falatea started to catch fire in the third period, making three quick threes to cut the Pilot lead to 34-28. Portland and BYU went on to trade buckets the rest of the way before a turnover by Falatea led to a Portland layup, as the Cougars would trail 42-32 with one quarter to play.
After committing 13 first half turnovers, the Cougars were able to clean things up to start the second, as they would go the duration of the period without a turnover. They also improved their shooting in the quarter, aided by 3 of 6 from downtown.
Despite best efforts to come back from the 10 point deficit, the Portland defense along with their free-throw shooting proved to be too much for the Cougars to overcome. Calvert got the scoring started for BYU in the quarter, scoring off the Amanda Barcello assist to make it a 42-34 game in favor of the Pilots.
Falatea followed up Calvert's layup with another three pointer, her fourth of the game. Portland responded to the Cougar momentum with a 6-0 run, but Calvert's three quickly made it an 8-point game again, with the score 50-42 with just over five minutes remaining in the period.
BYU continued to show fight until the end as Falatea, Bubakar and Hamson went on to make field goals in the final stretch, but proved to not be enough as Portland ended the game making four free-throws to win by a final score of 61-49.
The Cougars will travel to Las Vegas this week as they get set to compete in the WCC Tournament. The tournament opens Thursday, March 2, with BYU expected to earn a No. 5 seed and a first-round bye and play its first game on Friday at 12 p.m. from the Orleans Arena against the winner of the 8/9 game. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv and the WCC Network, along with RSN Regional Networks.
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