A bad shooting night cost BYU women’s basketball a win over the West Coast Conference leader. Gonzaga bested BYU 84–70 in the Marriott Center Saturday afternoon.
“I knew we needed to to play one of our best games to beat them,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said following the game.
Unfortunately, the Cougars (13-10, 8-4) didn’t. From the beginning, the Cougars struggled to find a rhythm on offense, only scoring 10 points in the first quarter. With the Bulldogs up 21–10 at the end of the first quarter, the 11-point deficit proved too much of a bridge for the Cougars to cross.
In fact, the Cougars were outscored in each quarter except for the final quarter where the Cougars outscored the Bulldogs 28–27. However, a one-point difference couldn’t make up for a mere 16.7 percent from the 3.
In contrast, the Bulldogs shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
“It’s hard because they don’t beat themselves,” Judkins said about Gonzaga. “They take good shots. The one thing Gonzaga does is they look at matchups.”
And one matchup BYU couldn’t handle was Gonzaga forward Jill Barta. She was a major challenge for the Cougars. The forward stretched the floor making 4-of-5 3-point shots, sunk 12-of-14 free throws and maintained a perfect game until halfway through the third quarter.
“She set the tone for the first of the game,” Judkins said. … “She was a tough matchup for us tonight. We tried a couple things. They have a lot of weapons and you can’t stop all their weapons.”
Finally, the Cougars got a boost in the fourth quarter. In a last-chance effort, the Cougars found a surge of energy when BYU freshman Paisley Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 4:25 left that brought the score 70–58. A BYU full-court press led to the team to trapping Gonzaga at half court and stealing the ball, which BYU converted. BYU guard Malia Nawahine dished Johnson the ball for an easy layup. The Cougars were only down by 10 and later would close the gap by only eight.
However, Gonzaga had an answer for every move BYU made.
“When we got it down to 10 we definitely had a lot more energy and then we missed a few shots and that hurt us,” said BYU guard Cassie Broadhead Devashrayee. “[They were] shots we normally make and they were good looks. Tonight shooting the ball was not our night. We didn’t give up. We tried. We kept trying to fight back. I think that’s the positive thing about this game. We’re mad we lost, but there are good things about this game.”
Devashrayee said the Cougars didn’t capitalize on their opportunities or stick to the game plan. Part of the struggle both Devashrayee and Judkins noted was the youth of BYU’s team, which is only fixed with experience. Despite the loss, Judkins says he saw new skills on the court off of which he can build. And Devashrayee says her leadership can help the Cougars bounce back from a rough night.
“We’re so young, but it’s all mental toughness. I think that’s one of the biggest differences between high school and college. You have to be mentally strong,” Davashrayee said. …”They’re going to get there. Leading by example for me, seeing that I’m going to keep shooting and I’m going to keep going. Hopefully that helps them. They can all shoot. We can shoot. It was an off night for us. Hopefully, none of my teammates leave here thinking we can’t beat this team because we can. We definitely have the potential. If we can stream together stops and make shots, we have a chance.”
Three BYU players scored double digits: Devashrayee led with 24 points, Nawahine contributed 10 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter and freshman Sara Hamson contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
BYU travels to Santa Clara and San Francisco next week on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.