PROVO — The two key factors to Brigham Young's victory — size and team depth ?— made the Cougars far superior and proved to be far too much for visiting Portland to handle on Saturday at the Marriott Center.
Center Jennifer Hamson put in a season-high 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in only 19 minutes of play, and the Cougars rolled, 76-55, for their seventh straight win. They have won 17 of their last 18 games, including eight in a row at home.
"(Head coach Jeff Judkins) has been getting on me to be more aggressive," Hamson said.
Early on, the extended zone defense Portland (8-14, 1-7 West Coast Conference) was showing dared the Cougars (18-3, 7-1) to go inside. But BYU didn't find success in the post until back-to-back perimeter jumpers from Dani Peterson and Kim Parker loosened up the defense.
"They were getting out on our guards and I don't think they were quite ready for the inside presence we can bring," Hamson said. Her 10 straight points were part of a 15-5 run that blew open a close game.
Hamson's rebound total included five offensive boards, and she also added four blocks, a pair of assists and a steal.
BYU took a 41-28 halftime lead, and steadily increased that advantage in the second half, building it to as much as 66-41 with seven and a half minutes to play.
Lexi Eaton led all scorers with 16 points in an efficient effort, adding a career-high five assists, two steals and four rebounds during just 15 minutes of playing time.
"It's really important for us to not overlook any team because all the teams in this conference can be dangerous," Eaton said.
To say that Judkins has been impressed with Eaton's transition from high school to the collegiate level would be an understatement.
"I think she is the best freshman in the league," Judkins said. "Lexi has probably improved more than anyone on this team, and when she ultimately leaves here, she will probably be one of the best ever."
Fourteen Cougars saw the court against the Pilots, while twelve of them scored. Judkins knows that depth is something he can rely on.
"I subbed earlier than usual today, because we were a little sluggish at the beginning," Judkins said. "It does help that we are so deep, but the hard part is getting people enough minutes to where they feel like they're improving their game."
Indeed, BYU dominated in the bench points category, outscoring Portland 34 to 14.
Haley Steed dished out 10 assists and grabbed six rebounds, while Parker contributed 13 points (including a trio of 3-pointers) and Kristen Riley pulled down six rebounds and chipped in with six points and three assists. Stephanie Vermunt hit a pair of three-pointers.
Cassandra Brown led the Pilots with 14 points, while Natalie Day had 11 points and nine rebounds. Kari Luttinen finished with eight points.
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