BYU women's basketball: Cougars fly past the Pilots

By Jonathan Boldt

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21 2013 11:40 p.m. MST

PROVO — Portland's visit to Provo to play the BYU women's basketball team started off with a bang, as the Pilots jumped out in front of the Cougars.

The score, though, was just 2-0.

That, as it turned out, was as good as it got for Portland. BYU quickly snatched the lead away from the Pilots and never trailed again as the Cougars picked up a convincing 79-64 win Thursday night.

Senior point guard Haley Steed picked up her season high in points with 23, coming up just one short of matching her career high. She added nine assists while only turning the ball over once and also connected on 5 of 7 3-point attempts.

"That was a great game by Haley," said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. "I'm really gonna miss her. She's just a great all-around player — a great scorer when she needs to be, passer, defender, leader. She is the best point guard to ever play here."

Jennifer Hamson chipped in 23 points of her own, both — season and career highs — as she was the inside balance to Steed's outside shooting.

"When I have a presence inside it opens up shots on the perimeter and we get a lot of shots. Haley gets a lot of shots, and so I thought we played really well together," Hamson said.

"One of the great things about this team is that they will take advantage of where they think their strength is each game," Judkins said. "Tonight, for whatever reason, they didn't want to guard Haley. I don't know what the reasoning is but Haley is smart and she knows how to use screens really well. Jenn tonight, I think she knew she could get inside presence."

Up next for the Cougars is a shot at redemption as they welcome the Gonzaga Bulldogs to the Marriot Center on Saturday. BYU's trip to Spokane, Wash., in January resulted in a 15-point loss, a result Steed is anxious turn around.

"We've been waiting for this game," Steed said. "At Gonzaga we didn't play as well as we know we can. We will definitely be looking to get the ball inside. Jenn is playing really well right now and she is a huge advantage for our team."

Coach Judkins picked up his 250th career win Thursday night, but all he is focusing on is the future.

"We gotta take care of business," Judkins said. "They can really score and we'll need to guard them and we've got to not turn the ball over so much like we did last game up there and I think we will. These next two games at BYU, with us Saturday and the men's Thursday (against Gonzaga) will be great."

Tip time for Saturday's matchup against the Bulldogs is set for 2 p.m. as BYU looks to remain undefeated at home and tries to stay in the hunt for a WCC championship.

Jonathan Boldt is a sports writing intern for the Deseret News covering the Utah Valley. He can be reached at jonboldt@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @jboldt24 - www.boldted.com

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