PROVO, Utah — Kim Parker Beeston, Haley Steed and Keilani Unga each scored in double-digits to lead BYU women’s basketball to a win over Saint Mary’s 66-58 on Thursday at the Marriott Center.
“It’s a great win," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We really needed it. It wasn’t a pretty game, but I didn’t think it would be. Saint Mary’s is a very, very good team. They’re very well coached and they’re physical.”
BYU (14-6, 5-2 West Coast Conference) outscored Saint Mary’s (14-6, 6-2 WCC) 17-3 in points off turnovers and forced the Gaels to turn the ball over 15 times.
Beeston and Steed led BYU with 14 points each. Beeston was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Steed hit 4-of-7 3-point shots for the Cougars and finished the night one assist shy of a double-double. Unga also scored in double digits with 13 points and was 5-of-6 from the field. Jennifer Hamson led the team on the boards with eight. Morgan Bailey and Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn also scored nine points apiece.
“It was nice to see a couple kids step it up tonight," Judkins said. "I thought Keilani had one of her best games. Not just scoring 13 points tonight, but I thought her toughness and what she did on the court helped us.”
Seaborn struck first for the Cougars with a score from the top of the arc to put BYU up 3-0. Beeston followed with a jumper on the next BYU possession and then capitalized on a defensive stop to put in another 3-pointer for the Cougars to put them up 8-3.
Unga hit her first shot at the 15:23 mark to put BYU up 10-3 heading into the first timeout. Out of the timeout, Saint Mary’s took a 10-1 run to grab a two-point lead. Beeston was able to stop the bleeding for BYU with a jumper at the 11:57 mark to tie the game at 13. Saint Mary’s followed with a 4-0 run, but Beeston cut the lead to only one with her second 3-pointer of the night.
At the 5:46 mark, Saint Mary’s took a seven-point lead over BYU. The Cougars managed to score one point on a free throw but were still down six points with 2:30 remaining in the half. With two minutes left, Seaborn hit BYU’s first field goal since the 5:28 mark with a 3-pointer from the corner.
On BYU’s next possession, Jennifer Hamson went up strong to the basket and was fouled to complete the three-point play and tie the game at 29 with only a minute and a half remaining. Saint Mary’s responded to the Cougar run, scoring six points to go up 35-29. However, with only seconds remaining, Steed knocked down a 3-point jumper to cut Saint Mary’s lead in half and send BYU into the locker room down only 35-32.
Unga tied the game one minute into the second half with a shot from the left side of the key and Steed sunk consecutive 3-pointers to give BYU its first lead, 41-35, since the 12:22 mark in the first half.
Saint Mary’s scored its first point of the second half with a free throw at the 15:02 mark to seal BYU’s 10-1 run to start the half. With 11:06 left, Bailey hit a layup to push BYU up by seven at 48-41 and then Steed followed with her fourth 3-point field goal to give BYU its biggest lead of the night at nine points.
With 8:54 remaining, Unga laid in an offensive putback to join Steed and Beeston in double-digit scoring with 11 points. BYU held a seven-point lead heading into the timeout at 4:48, but Saint Mary’s cut the lead to only five with 3:46 remaining.
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At the 1:03 mark, Steed was fouled and hit both foul shots to put BYU up 61-54. BYU then forced a Gael turnover to take the ball back with only 55 seconds remaining. In the last minute, Saint Mary’s fouled BYU three times and the Cougars converted on 5-of-6 free throws to take the 66-58 victory.
BYU will play next at Santa Clara on Saturday in the Leavey Event Center at 2 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast live on BYU Radio/Sirius XM 143.
Jamie Morris is the softball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.