Women's basketball roundup: BYU forced to settle for No. 2 in West Coast Conference

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25 2012 11:09 p.m. MST

SPOKANE, Wash. — In their final game of the regular season, the Cougars fell hard to conference regular season champion Gonzaga, 77-60, Saturday afternoon in Bulldog territory.

BYU (24-6, 12-4) ends the season No. 2 in the West Coast Conference standings with Gonzaga (25-4, 14-2) taking the regular season title.

"I thought we played 20 good minutes in the game," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "Their inside presence really hurt us. Steed had probably one of her best games this year. Hopefully we'll get a shot at them again in the tournament."

Senior Haley Steed led the Cougars with 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. True freshman Lexi Eaton had 13 points and four assists, while senior Kristen Riley had 11 points and nine rebounds, leading BYU on the boards.

BYU shot 36 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Gonzaga's Katelan Redmon led all scorers with 28 points, helping the Bulldogs shoot 49.2 percent from the floor.

BYU took control to start with a 6-0 run. Steed's three defensive rebounds in the first two minutes prevented Gonzaga from snagging second-chance points. Gonzaga's own 9-0 run put the Bulldogs in the lead 13-8 after a 3-pointer by Taelor Karr.

Seven turnovers plagued the Cougars early in the half, but Steed kept her team in the game with a trey. Stephanie Vermunt tied it at 13 on her layup, but BYU stumbled and allowed a 7-0 Bulldog run.

Steed became No. 4 in BYU history for career 3-pointers with 6:09 on the clock, draining a beyond-the-arc bucket. True freshman Xojian Harry's trey put the Cougars back within three points, setting up Riley to tie the game at 22 on the team's third-straight 3-pointer.

Gonzaga skipped ahead as the clock wound down, but a Vermunt 3-pointer and last-second jumper kept the score at a close 29-27 going into halftime. The sophomore forward led the team with seven points at the half in 10 minutes of play.

Senior Dani Peterson pushed the score within one with the help of Eaton before the Bulldogs took off on a 16-0 run for their largest lead of the game, 48-31. Steed tried to stop Gonzaga's momentum with a 3-pointer, but Karr responded with her own basket from 3-point land.

Eaton cut the deficit to 12 before Steed fired off her fifth 3-pointer of the game with just over 10 minutes left. Eaton continued her successful streak with a layup and her own 3-pointer to bring BYU within seven at 56-49.

Eaton's renewed energy wasn't enough to spark a comeback, ending the rematch in a 77-60 Gonzaga victory.

With their second-place finish, the Cougars pick up the No. 2 seed for the West Coast Conference championships, giving BYU a bye into the semifinals. BYU will play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

STANFORD 69, UTAH 42: At Stanford, Calif., playing their second game since losing starting point guard Janita Badon to a knee sprain she suffered earlier this week in practice, Utah's problems were on full display against the second-ranked team in the country.

The Utes committed shot clock violations on their first two possessions, shot just 35.4 percent, committed 15 turnovers and had only six assists in a 69-42 loss to No. 2 Stanford on Saturday.

"Part of the problem is we're having a heck of a time running anything," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "When you don't execute great it's difficult for kids to make shots because they're not shooting from where they're used to shooting."

Taryn Wicijowski scored 15 points and Iwalani Rodrigues had 12 for the Utes, who trailed by as much as 27. Michelle Plouffe added nine points but no other Utah player had more than three.

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