Women's basketball roundup: Jeff Judkins becomes winningest coach at BYU

Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 12 2012 11:00 p.m. MST

PROVO — BYU head coach Jeff Judkins became the all-time winningest coach in BYU women's basketball history, picking up his 220th career win as the Cougars defeated Pepperdine, 80-56, Thursday at the Marriott Center.

Judkins passed former BYU coach Courtney Leishman (1977-89) for the record and is now 220-111 (.665) in his 11th season as head coach of the Cougars. Leishman finished at BYU with a 219-124 (.638) record.

"This milestone means I've had great players," Judkins said. "You can't make chicken salad without chicken. I've had great assistant coaches who work hard and believe in me. It's gone by fast and winning makes me happy so I've had some good nights. I'm happy to be doing something I've wanted my whole life and to be good at it helps in having success. I'm very excited about where this program is going."

BYU, winner of 14 of its last 15 games, improved to 15-3 and 4-1 in the West Coast Conference as Pepperdine fell to 8-8, 3-2.

BYU senior Haley Steed set a career high with 14 assists, collecting her third career double-double with 11 points in addition to four steals and three rebounds.

"They're (Pepperdine) really fast and quick in every position," Judkins said. "They're really good at spreading you out and I thought we did a good job early but we got tired. We haven't zoned much but I think we probably played more zone tonight than I have in two years. I thought Haley had a stellar night. Their game was to pressure her and she still had 14 assists tonight. You can't coach that, you can't coach toughness."

Freshman guard Lexi Eaton had a team-high 15 points, to go with three steals, two blocks and a career-best seven boards.

Tied 15-15 early, an initial 9-0 run helped BYU jump out to an early 24-15 lead behind strong play by Steed. After a steal and jumper in transition, Steed assisted on two-straight 3-point baskets first by Stephanie Vermunt and then by Eaton.

The Cougars went into halftime up by 10 points, 37-27, thanks to Eaton's hot hand. The freshman netted nine of BYU's last 16 points before halftime over the final seven minutes of the first period.

The Cougars turned to center Jennifer Hamson off the bench in the second half, using the sophomore to bury the Waves with a 13-2 run to take a decisive 58-38 lead with 12:16 remaining. Hamson scored the first nine points of the run on layups and BYU held Pepperdine to a single field goal over the final nine minutes for the victory.

"I try to take the challenges he (Coach Judkins) gives me to heart and then my teammates are good and give me good passes," Hamson said. "My teammates are really good at being aggressive and they find me down low. We always try to push the advantages that we have and we had that tonight so it worked for us."

Hamson finished with 13 points and five blocks in 19 minutes of play and was joined by Vermunt's 12 points on 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc in giving the Cougar bench a 30-4 margin over their Pepperdine counterparts.

BYU plays San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on BYU Radio.

UTAH STATE 74, NEW MEXICO STATE 56: At Las Cruces, N.M., with four players scoring in double digits, the Aggies (10-5, 1-0) captured their fifth-straight win with a 74-56 win against New Mexico State (3-13, 0-1) in USU's Western Athletic Conference opener. USU is now 4-3 in WAC openers, winning its last three. Utah State is also now 2-1 in WAC road openers.

With 13 second-half points, senior guard Brooke Jackson led all scorers with 18 total points, while senior forward Ashlee Brown scored 15 points. Senior forward Maddy Plunkett added 13 points, while junior guard Devyn Christensen sunk 12 points. Sophomore guard Jennifer Schlott made the most of her minutes with five assists in five minutes of action. The five assists tied a career high for Schlott.

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