PROVO Remember the infamous 0-22 start by the BYU women's basketball team against Utah two weekends ago? And the Cougars' follow-up, 11-point first-half effort and 39 total points at San Diego State?
Well, the Cougars put those two routs in the rear-view mirror with Saturday's 56-42 upset over No. 18 Wyoming at the Marriott Center, holding the Mountain West Conference's top scoring team to just 42 points and 22.4 percent shooting from the floor.
"We hit rock bottom after San Diego, and we had nowhere to go but up," said BYU guard Mallary Carling, who scored a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting including 4-of-5 3-pointers.
"It's not all forgotten," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins of his team's earlier struggles before the Cougars have since put together their modest three-win streak. "But you feel better as a coach that it sunk in all the screaming and all the film sessions."
Now 11-8 overall and 5-2 in the Mountain West, BYU is a half-game out of second place behind Wyoming (18-3, 6-2 MWC), which lost to undefeated league leader Utah earlier this week.
Cougar freshman Mindy Nielson contributed 13 points, a game-high five assists and a much-needed drive-to-the-rim mentality.
Said Carling of Nielson: "They couldn't stop her off the dribble."
And Nielson countered of Carling: "Whenever we needed a key shot in a slump, she came up big."
BYU's Cassie King added 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the paint, while Shawnee Slade finished with nine timely points and a game-best 12 rebounds and led the defensive charge in holding Wyoming's Hanna Zavecz, the league's preseason MVP, to 1-of-12 shooting and just three points.
"People don't realize what she does for this team defensively," Judkins said of Slade, "and offensively she let it come to her tonight. It was almost a double-double, and then Hanna has a 1-for-12 night and Shawnee was a good reason for that."
Justyna Podziemska's 19 points led Wyoming, which finished 23 points below its season scoring average and 20 points below its normal FG shooting percentage.
In the first half, BYU turned a four-point deficit a half-dozen minutes into the game into a six-point advantage at 17-11. The Cougars' 11-1 run over that six-minute stretch included three close-range buckets by King and a trey and jumper by Carling, with BYU settling for a 24-22 halftime lead.
In the second half, things got better for BYU and worse for Wyoming. The Cowgirls went 10 minutes without a field goal, with the Cougars turning a 29-all tie into a 47-32 lead that never dipped below double digits.
The 18-point, game-winning surge included a Slade jumper, two Nielson free throws, a jumper and a fast-break trey by Carling, back-to-back layups by Nielson, a King basket underneath and another Carling 3-point punctuation mark, giving BYU its 17-point cushion with 3:31 to play.BYU's next game is Tuesday night at TCU.