Utah Sports Ruckus: BYU women are now carrying the basketball flag for the entire state of Utah

Published: Monday, March 24 2014 10:25 a.m. MDT

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Associated Press
Nobody believed in the BYU Cougars. Despite having the WCC Player of the Year and other quality players, despite several impressive wins this season, the Cougs entered the NCAA tournament as an undervalued double-digit seed.

When it mattered most on the court, though, BYU went out and proved itself with a hard-nosed, dominant victory to open the NCAA tournament versus the talented women from North Carolina State.

What? You thought we were talking about the other BYU basketball team?

We’ll get there after we talk about the top college basketball team in the state.

The BYU women, entering the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed, jumped all over fifth-seeded North Carolina State, winning easily 72-57.

The Cougars were led by the usual suspects, Jennifer Hamson and Lexi Eaton, but got solid contributions from other players as well.

Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year, came within one blocked shot of a triple-double, racking up a phenomenal 19 rebounds and nine blocks to go along with 12 points and zero turnovers in 36 minutes.

Eaton, a sophomore all-conference performer in her own right, came up huge as well with 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes.

Junior forward Morgan Bailey and sophomore guard Kylie Maeda supported Hamson and Eaton with a combined 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 18 rebounds.

BYU coach Jeff Judkins, unlike men’s coach Dave Rose, relied heavily on his starters, playing them for 176 of the 200 available minutes (88 percent).

As a team, the Cougar women held the opposing Wolfpack to just 20 field goals on 73 attempts (27 percent), outrebounded them 52-37 and blocked 15 of their shots.

Before Eric Mika leaves on his mission, BYU coaches should see if he can spend some time learning defense from Hamson. In fact, the whole men’s team, which gave up 27 field goals on 54 attempts to Oregon and blocked zero shots, should be forced to watch tape of their female counterparts.

The Cougar men have 15 blocks in their last eight games combined.

Hamson had nine blocks in 36 minutes versus North Carolina State. Mika had nine blocks over his last 356 minutes of playing time (14 games).

There are probably several reasons for that discrepancy, but effort and a focus on defense from the coaching staff are certainly part of it.

The Cougar women play fourth-seeded Nebraska (26-6, 12-4 Big Ten) on Monday at 7 p.m. MDT, with the game televised on ESPN2. The Cougs haven’t been in the second round of the NCAA tournament since 2006 and will be trying to reach the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history.

The Cornhuskers are led by Big Ten Player of the Year senior forward Jordan Hooper. Hooper, an inside-outside threat with a school record 289 3-pointers, led Nebraska to its first-ever conference tournament title this season with her 39th career double-double. She averages 20.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Nebraska reached the Sweet 16 last year before losing to second-seeded Duke.

The BYU women are now carrying the basketball flag for the entire state of Utah as the only team left standing.

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Old But Not Stupid
Moorpark, CA

Nate-

Enjoy your work.

I strongly agree with your realistic characterizations of BYU basketball coaching and Jabari Parker.

If only Rose would hire you (94%?) to coach them up in shooting free throws, and me to grill them about court balance and spacing, court sense and awareness [where all of the players are], and "play full out to the whistle/buzzer" [Delavedova would never have gotten off that infamous shot]...they might consistently make the Sweet 16.

Of course, we both know that this will never happen.

Vladhagen
Salt Lake City, UT

I think that Jabari is an example of the problem with 1 and done approaches to basketball. What if he stayed on at Duke a bit longer? (or went on a mission? No bball help in that though) Maybe he could develop more ability in defense as well as a bit more maturity in the game.

souptwins
Lindon, UT

In all fairness, the men's team does not have the height differential that Hamson has for the women. I'm sure that has something to do with the difference in number of blocks. She does play very well as a well-rounded player with much better athleticism than may be expected. She's far more than just a tall gal. I do believe the men have some serious work to do on defense and won't see a whole lot better play in the post season until they do. Please Rose! Find an assistant that specializes in defense and hire him, quick!

RonBergundy
SANDY, UT

@Vladhagen.

You think that Jabari doesn't have enough maturity in his game? He just won Freshman of the Year.

Concinnity
Tooele, UT

It always comes down to just a single team that eventually carries the load for the entire state.
As is usually the case, it's a team from BYU... and a "non-prestigious" conference.
Of course, we recently found out that an average team from that conference can beat an average team from a supposedly "prestigious" conference. And also visa-versa. Go figure. Parity abounds. It's a fact.

Keep up the great work, Lady Cougars!

JSB
Sugar City, ID

How old is Jabari Parker? 19 or 20? Lay off! He's just a young man and shouldn't be mocked as he makes important and difficult decisions.

Vladhagen
Salt Lake City, UT

RonB. Exactly. He won freshman of the year. Not senior of the year. It is a funny thing about that freshman award......they usually give it to a young 19 year old freshman, not the wise man in the cave. Jabari is a great young man. I do not mean he is immature in that he throws things and punches fans; I mean he needs experience at the higher levels in order to develop his game.

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