PROVO — Behind Kim Beeston's career-high six 3-pointers, BYU women's basketball torched South Dakota State, 81-53, on Friday at the Marriott Center.
"This was one of the best games I've seen one of my teams play in a long time," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "I thought the defensive effort was great tonight and I really thought offensively we got excellent balance with outside shots to inside presence, to getting to the foul line. If our team plays like this, we're hard to stop."
Lexi Eaton and Beeston led the Cougars with 18 points apiece. Jennifer Hamson dominated in the post with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, while Morgan Bailey also chipped in 13 points in the post.
With 11:35 left in the first half, the game was close in favor of South Dakota State, 16-14. BYU then opened up a 19-3 run.
Beeston sparked the Cougars during the run. Leading by five, 21-16, Hamson kicked the ball out from the post to Beeston behind the arc for her second three of the game. The Jackrabbits attempted to counter as Beeston came up with a steal. The senior guard then finished on the other end with another three, pushing the score to 27-16 and forcing the Jackrabbits to call a timeout.
The Cougars led by 16 points just before the halftime buzzer as sophomore Kylie Maeda drove through the defense, finishing at the basket to bring the score to 41-25 with five seconds left in the half.
South Dakota State was held to 25 percent shooting from the field but stayed in the game with its 3-point shooting as it shot 6-for-13. BYU stifled its inside game with five team blocks in the first half.
Coming out of the break, Eaton scored BYU's first five points, and Beeston added another 3-pointer.
After a Jackrabbit 3-pointer, BYU assembled another run to put the game out of reach. The Cougars outscored the Jackrabbits, 16-3, over the next 7:23 of the half to extend the lead even more, 57-31.
BYU tied last year’s season highs in points (81) and blocks (10), while exceeding last season's high of 47.1 percent from the three-point line.
"Jen only got 13 points tonight, but she caused a lot of baskets for everybody else because of her presence," Judkins said. "Defensively, I thought she played a perfect game."
Judkins is now 11-2 in season openers in his time at BYU. The Jackrabbits have played in the NCAA tournament for the past three years.
"They'll win their league," Judkins said. "They've won 25 games each season for a long time there. This win helped us gain a lot of confidence knowing that if we play as a team, then we're a tough team to beat."
BYU’s first road game is Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. PST, against UNLV at Las Vegas. The game will be broadcast on BYU Radio.
McKay Perry is the sports information director for BYU men's and women's tennis. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org