MALIBU, Calif. - Second-half 3-point shooting gave the BYU women’s basketball team what it needed to easily roll past Pepperdine 67-44 Saturday, despite a low-scoring first half.
“I liked our defense in the second half, we held them to seven or eight points for eight or 10 minutes,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I thought our defensive intensity was better in the second half. I think we’re playing a lot better than we have been. A lot of players have stepped up.”
Kim Parker Beeston led the Cougars with 16 points scored off five 3-pointers and a free throw. She was joined in double figures by Keilani Unga, whose 12 points in the first half carried BYU for most of the first 20 minutes. She finished with 14. Morgan Bailey and Jennifer Hamson also had double digits in points with 12 and 10, respectively.
On the boards, Beeston contributed nine to tie her career high. Unga and Hamson also had nine rebounds apiece, while Bailey had eight.
Haley Steed had seven assists to lead the game.
BYU shot 45 percent overall from the field, 60.7 percent in the second half. The Cougars shot 72.7 percent from beyond the arc in the second half to take the significant lead. BYU defense held Pepperdine to shooting 26.6 percent from the field, 19.4 percent in the second half and 17.6 percent from the 3-point line.
BYU also led in rebounds, 49-31, and in points in the paint, 32-12.
After falling behind 6-1, Unga pulled BYU back into the game with two layups to tie the score at 8-8. Pepperdine stopped the Cougars’ progress with an 8-0 run to take an 18-10 lead.
BYU worked its way back for a tie at 20, once again by an Unga layup, giving the Cougars the momentum. Moments later, Steed got the ball and thundered down the court, feeding the ball to Unga for a fast-break layup and BYU’s first lead of the game, 24-22. Ea Shoushtari hit Unga on the way up, giving Unga the chance for an old-fashioned three-point play. The free throw gave Unga 12 points on the game to lead both teams. BYU led 25-24 going into halftime.
The second half started with a 3-pointer party, with Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn and Beeston each knocking down one. Shay Cooney-Williams also drained one for Pepperdine.
Hamson launched a 13-0 run for the Cougars with 18:25 left on the clock. Beeston contributed two treys and Seaborn one to the run, which put BYU ahead 44-28.
After 0-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, the Cougars made 7 of 8 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
With three Cougars in double figures going into the last 10 minutes, BYU continued its drive toward the finish line. Cougar defense held Pepperdine scoreless from the field for almost six minutes. The BYU bench held off the Waves for the rest of the game, ending with a 67-44 victory.
The Cougars face Portland at home Thursday at 7 p.m. MST, then host league-leader Gonzaga Saturday at 2 p.m. MST.
Rachel Hawks is a sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.