PROVO — Center Jen Hamson isn't the only standout low-post player on BYU's women's basketball team.
Saturday afternoon, it was forward Morgan Bailey stepping up big down low, propelling BYU to a 61-44 win over visiting Santa Clara at the Marriott Center.
The 6-foot-2 junior scored a career-high 18 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for her second double-double in as many games. She also had three steals, but more importantly, stepped up big when her team needed her.
“In the first half she really carried us,” said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “We wouldn’t have been in the game without her scoring and her aggressiveness.”
The Cougars started the game looking lethargic and uninspired and found themselves down 13-8 with a little more than 11 minutes remaining in the first half. To compound matters, Hamson collected her second foul and found herself on the bench.
That’s when Bailey stepped up and did her best work of the afternoon.
The former Timpanogos High star scored seven points during an 11-2 run to give the Cougars a 19-15 lead. Following a Bronco basket, the Cougars put together a 14-2 run to end the half up 33-19 and completely in control of the final outcome.
Bailey finished the half with 14 points and eight rebounds while showcasing adept skills on the low post on both ends of the court.
“Morgan really is our best low-post player,” Judkins said. “She’s the most aggressive. She has the most moves in there. ... She can score when people push her off the block and she’s quite good at that. She does it against (Hamson) in practice and maybe that helped her tonight going against two taller players.”
The Cougars also received a boost from junior guard Xojian Harry, who scored five straight points during the final run of the first half.
“I love (Harry). She’s just an extra kick in the butt, I guess, when we’re getting low,” Bailey said. “She knows her role and I think she’s very successful with that role of coming in and giving us a boost. I’m proud of her tonight and think she played great.”
The Cougars also received a boost from guard Kim Beeston, who scored 12 points and sank three 3-pointers.
The Broncos (7-13) were led by Ricki Radanovich, who had a team-high 16 points and four 3-pointers.
The Cougars weren’t seriously threatened in the second half and waltzed away with a convincing 17-point win.
With the victory, BYU improves to 16-4 on the year and 6-3 in West Coast Conference play. Next up for the team is a tough four-game road stretch beginning next Thursday against Saint Mary’s.
"These are games you work all summer for as a player. You work all year to play games to decide your own destiny," Judkins said about the four-game road stretch. "We match up well with Saint Mary's, and that game is going to be a dogfight. ... We'll be ready for it."
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company