PROVO — Directions: In case of sluggish play, apply three-pointers liberally to break the spirit of the opponent.
Despite not scoring until nearly three minutes into Thursday night’s contest with Loyola Marymount, the Cougars found their magic elixir from beyond the arc as they pushed through a sluggish start to notch a 72-53 victory to stay undefeated at home this season (9-0).
BYU tallied eight first half triples, with guard Kim Beeston leading the way, connecting on 3-4. Stephanie Seaborn and Haley Steed each recorded two and Xojian Harry picked up one of her own.
“We didn’t have a set game plan coming into the game,” Beeston said. “It was just kind of what was open, what they gave us and it seemed like the three was open a lot tonight.”
The effort was not lost on head coach Jeff Judkins.
“You know, Kim is a really good shooter,” Judkins said. “The nice thing is, she missed some shots early and she didn’t let it bother her. She kept taking it. A few years ago she would have thought about it, so that’s being mature and understanding what she can do. It’s a big lift, those three’s hurt. When you break a press and she hits those three’s, it’s really important.”
“Last year I would get frustrated when my first couple of shots didn’t go in and that really affected me,” Beeston said. “I focus a lot (this year) to keep shooting and not worry about it because there’s going to be a lot more opportunities in the game.”
The three point shot wasn’t the only thing to spark the Cougars to life.
“When we step it up defensively our offense comes along,” Beeston said. “So in the first couple minutes our defense wasn’t where it needed to be. Once we tighten up defensively and are more aggressive, then things just start to flow a lot better.”
BYU managed to turn a six point deficit early on into a 12-point halftime lead. Alex Cowling lead Loyola Marymount with 14 points at the break, but that was a trend that would not continue.
“I think two things happened,” Judkins said. “I think the altitude hit her and she wasn’t moving as hard. She looked a lot more tired in the second half but we did a better job of not letting her get the ball where she could score it.”
The hot shooting for BYU slowed in the second period as the Cougars only connected on two three’s, but coach Judkins would point to an important factor that helped seal the win.
“I think our bench tonight was a big factor,” Judkins said. “Keilani (Unga) and Jen (Hamson) got in early foul trouble and I went with my bench. We have a deep bench with players that can do a lot of good things for us and I think that’s what helped tonight.”
The win improves BYU’s record to 13-5 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Cougars travel to northern California on Saturday to take on San Francisco at 3 p.m. MST.