BYU women's basketball: Cougars use big second half run to beat Santa Clara

By Jared Houghton

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 9:55 p.m. MST

PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s basketball team used a 17-2 run to start the second half to beat Santa Clara 65-42 Thursday night at the Marriott Center.

Jennifer Hamson led the Cougars (17-7, 7-3) with 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to record her third double-double of the season. Haley Steed had 10 points and 10 assists for the night and Ashley Garfield scored 10 points and six rebounds.

The Broncos (13-12, 5-7) were led by Nici Gilday who scored 10 points and four rebounds.

"Well it wasn’t a pretty game, but we got it done," head coach Jeff Judkins said. "How we played defensively, in the first half, is probably why we stayed in the game — we did a good job of making them run the shot clock all the way down. For the most part they had to just put up shots that weren’t open, and we forced that. It’s good to see Jen (Hamson) a little more aggressive tonight — on the glass and trying to score. That’s what she has to do. That’s the Jen that I know. Another great game by Haley (Steed), she’s always consistent for us."

The BYU bench outscored the Broncos' bench 26-11 for the game, and the team had a 26-12 advantage of points in the paint. The Cougar defense played tough all game, recording eight steals and forcing 13 turnovers, while holding Santa Clara to 25 percent shooting on the night. BYU shot 43 percent from the field, including 40 percent (6-15) from behind the arc.

Both the Cougars and the Broncos started the game with aggressive defense, limiting the offensive opportunities on both ends of the floor. Steed hit the first basket of the game and then a minute later found Xojian Harry open on the break for a layup to tie the score at 4-4 going into the first media timeout.

Santa Clara opened up an early 10-6 lead before BYU tied the score at 10 apiece following a Morgan Bailey a layup and a steal and a fast break layup by Garfield with just over eight minutes left in the half.

After the media timeout, Garfield hit two free throws to give the Cougars their first lead of the night at 12-10. Garfield found Bailey underneath for a reverse layup to extend the lead to four with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. Kim Parker Beeston hit a three with two minutes left to push the lead to nine points at 19-10 before Santa Clara’s Nici Gilday hit two jumpers with under a minute left to make the halftime score 19-14.

The BYU defense held the Broncos scoreless for over nine minutes and to just 22 percent (6-27) shooting overall for the first half. The 14 points by Santa Clara was the lowest point total recorded by an opponent this season.

Hamson started the second half by grabbing three rebounds and scoring all six of the Cougars’ points to push the lead back to nine at 25-16 and force an early time out by Santa Clara.

Following the timeout, the offense went back to Hamson for a reverse layup and on the next possession, hitting Keilani Unga for a baseline jumper to push the lead to 11. Steed found Harry alone on the wing for a three to push the lead to 32-18 and cause Santa Clara to call their second timeout of the half.

With the Bronco’s center in foul trouble, the offense continued to go inside. Bailey found a cutting Hamson open for an easy layup and Steed found Beeston for an open jumper to double the score, 36-18.

Santa Clara went on a quick 6-1 run to cut the score to 37-24 with just over 10 minutes left in the second half. The Cougars responded by hitting two threes 30 seconds apart to stop the run. Steed drove the lane and found Beeston alone on the wing for a three and the next time down the court, Bailey found herself uncovered behind the arc and knocked down a three to push the lead to 43-24.

After the third media timeout of the second half, Beeston hit Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn for a corner trey to give BYU its biggest lead of the night at 50-30. Following two free throws by the Broncos, Steed pushed the lead back to 20 with a layup in the lane.

The Cougars now travel to southern California to take on Pepperdine on Saturday at 2 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast live on BYU radio.

Jared Houghton is a Sports Information Director who works in the BYU Athletic Communications with the men's and women's swimming teams. He can be reached at swimming_sid@byu.edu for questions relating to swimming.

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