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BYU basketball: newly named WCC all-time scorer Rydalch leads Cougars past Lions

By Alexa Anderson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28 2016 11:45 p.m. MST

Scoring a season-high 31 points, Lexi Eaton Rydalch became the West Coast Conference all-time leading scorer as the Cougars picked up their ninth conference win of the season beating LMU, 82-75, on Thursday.

"We had a great team effort tonight,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We made some crucial stops when we needed to. This is a very good win for us because it is tough to win on the road.”

Rydalch recorded her third double-double of the season, scoring a season- and game-high 31 points and pulling down a season-high 12 rebounds. Passing Alex Cowling for the WCC scoring record, Rydalch now has 2,235 in her career as a Cougar.

“Lexi played a great game. I think she probably played one of her best games tonight,” Judkins said. “Kalani and Makenzi also played very well and were vital to the team’s win.”

Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher scored 19 points, going 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, dished out four assists and tallied a game-high five steals in the win. Teammate Kalani Purcell finished the contest with 14 points and 14 rebounds to log her 11th double-double of the year. Purcell also dished out a game-high eight assists and had four steals.

The Cougars (17-4, 9-1) outrebound the Lions (7-14, 3-7), 46 to 33, bringing down 18 offensive rebounds to LMU’s seven. LMU had 17 assists to BYU’s 20, and the Cougars recorded 14 steals in the contest, while the Lions had seven.

BYU started the fourth period on a 6-0 run fueled by fast break layups off steals by Pulsipher and Purcell to go up 13, 70-57, its largest lead of the game.

LMU cut the lead to six, 75-69, with 3:11 to go in the game on two made free throws. At the 2:18 mark, Purcell found Rydalch for her eighth assist of the game to take the nine-point lead, 78-69. On the next possession, LMU's Makenzie Cast cut that lead again to six, 78-72, as she converted her fourth 3-pointer of the game.

Purcell kept the Cougar lead alive, 79-73, by converting one of two free throws with 65 seconds to go. LMU chipped away at the lead down 80-75, but two Rydalch free throws sealed the 82-75 win.

Teams started out the first period trading baskets, with the score 9-7 at the 7:44 mark. Rydalch scored the first five of BYU’s seven points. The Cougars then proceeded to go on a 6-0 run behind a 3-pointer from Rydalch, her second of the game.

The Lions then went on a run of their own to pull ahead 16-13, but Pulsipher hit a three on the next possession to tie the game at 16-all. With 2:55 to go in the first period, Pulsipher hit another 3-point field goal to tie the game at 19. LMU took the 24-22 lead into the second period.

Rydalch and Pulsipher went 4-for-7 from behind the arc in the first period, contributing nine and 11 points, respectively. The Lions and Cougars combined for seven 3-point field goals through the first 10 minutes of action.

Purcell opened the second period of play with a made layup and the foul to give the Cougars the one point, 25-24, advantage. Maeda converted another Cougar 3-pointer off a crosscourt pass from Cassie Broadhead at the eight-minute mark to again tie the game at 28.

Two made free throws from Pulsipher and a long baseline jumper from Kristine Fuller Nielson put the Cougars up four, 32-28. LMU then cut the lead to one, 37-36, with 2:12 to go on a made free throw by Cheyanne Wallace. BYU took the 40-37 lead into half time with 11 of those points coming from the charity stripe.

Rydalch and Pulsipher led all scorers with 13 points going into halftime. Purcell finished the half with five points, six rebounds and a game-high five assists. Teams were tied eight times in the first 20 minutes of play and the lead changed seven times.

LMU opened the half with a 3-point field goal by Cast to tie the game at 40-all. BYU then went on a 10-4 run, backed by a 3-pointer by Rydalch. With that 3-point field goal at the 7:35 mark in the third period, Rydalch earned the top spot on the WCC all-time scoring list.

With 4:42 to go in the third period, Wallace converted the three-point play to cut BYU’s lead to one, 53-52. Purcell made her way into double figures at the 4:03 mark as she made a jumper at the elbow, giving her 11 points in the contest. BYU proceeded to go on a 7-0 lead to garner its largest lead of the game, 62-52.

LMU cut the lead to five, 62-57, but Pulsipher extended that lead back to seven as she converted two free throws to end the third period.

It was a close game until the end. The Cougars came out firing in the fourth period to grab their largest lead of 13, but the Lions crawled back making the game interesting until the final buzzer.

BYU continues its Southern California road trip as it travels to Malibu to take on Pepperdine on Saturday. The teams tip off at 2 p.m. MT. The game can be followed on BYU Radio - Sirius XM 143, and links to live stats and radio can be found on the BYU women's basketball schedule page.

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