LINCOLN, Neb. — In her final basketball game for BYU, Jennifer Hamson scored nine points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked six shots.
And the 6-foot-7 senior center earned respect in a losing effort against No. 1 UConn at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskies beat the Cougars, 70-51, in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Hamson really changes a lot of shots and changes the way you attack the paint,” said UConn’s Bria Hartley.
“I think it was a different matchup, that they have a 6-7 girl,” said UConn center Stefanie Dolson. “We haven’t faced anyone like that all season.”
Now, the question is, what’s next for Hamson?
She could be selected in the upcoming WNBA draft. But the dual-sport star still has one year of volleyball eligibility remaining at BYU.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t quite decided,” Hamson said. “It’s so hard, because I love playing basketball and I love volleyball as well.”
Hamson averaged 6.3 blocks during the NCAA tournament and finished her career with 340 blocked shots, second in school history. Her mom, Tresa Spaulding Hamson, a former All-American at BYU, is the school’s all-time leader.
How would coach Jeff Judkins assess Hamson’s future at the next level?
“Her potential is way ahead of her. I think if a team picks her up, she’s a hard worker, she picks things up,” he said. “She’s got to get stronger. You saw that tonight. She’s a great player and we wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for her. She carried us a lot. We just couldn’t get her the ball tonight when we needed to. I think she’ll be a real surprise for somebody. She’s just starting to understand how to time blocked shots.”
Meanwhile, UConn, as well all of the other teams in the country, are just glad that Hamson's collegiate career is over.
While the Cougars will miss the senior star, there could be another Hamson in the pipeline.
“She has a little sister that I hope comes and plays," Judkins said, "so it will be a lot of fun."
HITTING THE WEIGHT ROOM: Judkins said the Cougars played a triangle-and-two defense against UConn, which worked well at times, and not so well at others.
"I had to put my little point guard from Hawaii (Kylie Maeda) that's 100 pounds on (UConn forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis)," he said. "She just pushed (Maeda) under the basket and got the rebound. I know I'm going to show that tape to her and say, 'You better get in the weight room this summer.'"
FINAL FOUR SCHEDULE CHANGE AVERTED: Had BYU won Saturday, the NCAA would have been forced to seriously consider a change in the Final Four schedule.
Per school policy, BYU does not participate in athletic events on Sundays. The national semifinals are scheduled for Sunday, April 6, in Nashville, Tenn.
Due to the so-called “BYU rule,” passed in 1998, the NCAA tournament schedule can be adjusted to accommodate religious beliefs.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Former UConn star and current ESPN basketball analyst, Rebecca Lobo, tweeted during the game: BYU has been so impressive this tournament. I'm a big fan of the way they play. Smart coach. Smart, athletic kids.”
NOTES: The crowd of 9,585 at Pinnacle Bank Arena was the largest crowd in the women’s tournament this season. BYU, making just its second NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, and first since 2002, drops to 5-10 all time in 10 NCAA tournament games. The Cougars are now 0-3 all time against UConn, with losses in Storrs, Conn., and in Provo in 2007 and 2008.