Utah Sports Ruckus: Is Jefferson blackmailing Corbin? Cuban is (mostly) right about football

Published: Monday, March 31 2014 11:10 a.m. MDT

BYU women glimpse at history but fall short Next » 1 of 7 « Prev
The BYU lady ballers became the first team to lead by more than five points or to lead in the second half vs. Connecticut (37-0) all season. The ESPN broadcasters were stunned and the crowd was fully on the BYU underdog bandwagon.

If the Cougars could have pulled off the win, it would have been the greatest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament, irrespective of gender.

The Cougs got close enough to glimpse it.

A few less turnovers and a better overall game from star Lexi Eaton and there might have been a chance for the underdogs at the end.

BYU led undefeated UConn 27-21 with 4:28 left in the first half and led 35-34 nearly three minutes into the second, but the Huskies finally started to break the game open with about 15 minutes to go and went on an 18-5 run to put it away at the end, 70-51.

The Cougs only scored five points in the last 10 minutes of the game.

BYU held UConn to just 39.4 percent from the field and for the majority of the game played a brand of defense that BYU men’s head coach Dave Rose could only fantasize about from his team this season.

To have a chance in the last five minutes, however, the Cougars would have needed a few things to go differently.

First, they needed Eaton to play a lot better and a lot smarter. Eaton got in foul trouble early, made several sloppy turnovers, forced quite a few quick/bad shots (4 of 14 overall), only dished one assist and pulled down just two rebounds. Eaton took a team-high 14 shots in just 20 minutes on the court.

Second, the Cougars needed more shot attempts from Morgan Bailey, who started the game on fire and finished with a team-best shooting percentage (5 for 9), and Jennifer Hamson who had only eight shot attempts.

Third, BYU needed less minutes and more production from its bench. Coach Jeff Judkins was forced to play his bench 46 minutes in the game because of foul trouble to Eaton and Bailey. In those 46 minutes, the Cougar bench combined for zero points on 0-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers and a steal.

The Cougar bench had played just 56 minutes combined over the first two games of the NCAA tournament, so 46 against UConn was a big jump. In those 56 minutes the bench had scored 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, so the bench production suffered a big drop off just when it needed production the most.

Despite the loss, the Cougs’ run to their second-ever Sweet 16 appearance was far from a fluke. After the game, Judkins said: “I told the team hopefully this is the start of what we want to be at BYU — a team that comes to this tournament yearly and knocks on the door.”

A repeat of this season’s success where the Cougars posted a school-record 28 wins, will be a tall order. Hamson, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and Kim Beeston, who led the team with 16 points and four 3-pointers vs. UConn, were probably the two best defenders for the Cougs and both will be gone next season.

With Eaton and Bailey back, however, another tournament run next year is not out of the question.
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