PROVO Jeff Judkins is looking for some ugly wins.
The Brigham Young women's basketball coach got a victory that fits that description on Friday, as the Cougars squeaked by Seton Hall, 47-43.
"Hopefully this team is going to win a lot of ugly games like this one, because we don't have anyone right now that can step up and take over," Judkins said.
Despite leading the game virtually the entire way, BYU had to hold off the Pirates with clutch free-throw shooting and a stellar defensive play to seal the victory and at least for now wipe away a bad memory of losing to Hartford earlier in the week.
Employing a stifling defense, the Cougars held Seton Hall to just four field goals the entire first half. Offensively, BYU went on runs of 12-0 and 12-2 during the first 30 minutes of play, and doubled the Pirates' output by halftime (28-14).
But it was a different story coming out of the halftime locker room, as Seton Hall's comeback gained momentum and a potential Cougar meltdown started to occur.
The Pirates scored the second half's first four points, and went on a long run that eventually reached 15-2. By the end of that, Seton Hall was down just two at 31-29, and BYU was in for a close game the rest of the way.
"I think our defense is our strength, and we showed that in the first half," Judkins said. "But in the second half we gave them easy baskets through turnovers, and in the women's game, when that happens, it gives the other team a lot of confidence and momentum."
For the game, the Cougars turned the ball over 19 times, many of them coming late and at crucial times.
Up 40-37 with a chance to go a long way in icing the game, Cougar Shawnee Slade missed both free throws. On Seton Hall's next possession, Amber Harris hit a runner, pulling the Pirates to within one point.
But Cassie King was 4-for-4 on free throws the next two times down the court, as the Cougars held a three-point lead.
King, who missed an important free throw in the loss to Hartford, said she took that personally, and worked on it intensely the last few days.
"I have an indoor court in my house, and I went home and shot about 1,000 free throws," King said. "I know I can make free throws, so when I stepped up tonight, I knew I would make them."
Ashley Booker's steal and layup made things tight once again. A Seton Hall turnover looked like it spelled doom for the Cougars, but a double-dribble was immediately called on the play, and Mallary Gillespie-Carling made 1-of-2 free throws.
The big defensive play came on the Pirates' next possession, when Slade came up with a steal. That was followed up by a pair of free throws by Carling to provide for the final score.
"It was nice to step up and have a chance to redeem myself," said Carling who was on the bad end of the late steal by Seton Hall.BYU now hits the road to play a pair of games in Connecticut. The Cougars take on the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., Thursday at 7 p.m., then square off against Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., next Saturday at 2 p.m.
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