We executed the game plan on defense. We got stops when we needed to, and that's what won us the game. —BYU's Kylie Maeda
BYU's Morgan Bailey wanted to leave the BYU-Utah rivalry with a bang.
After all, Saturday's matchup against Utah would be the final time the Orem High graduate would play the Utes, plus she wanted to avenge the Cougar men's basketball team's loss to the team up north earlier this week.
Mission accomplished, though per the usual in this rivalry, it was certainly a fight.
Behind Bailey's 18 points and 10 rebounds, BYU left the Huntsman Center with a 60-56 victory. Like so many games over the years between these two schools, it wasn't until Kylie Maeda made two free throws with less than a second to go that the game was decided.
"This Holy War means a lot to everyone," Bailey said. "We just wanted to represent BYU out there. I think we did a good job. We would have liked to have blown them out a little bit more, but we'll take the win."
It appeared early as if the Cougars might blow Utah out, as they opened up an eight-point lead less than six minutes into the contest thanks to capitalizing on some Ute mistakes.
The comfortable lead was short-lived, however, as Utah battled back to within three at halftime, 32-29. For the rest of the afternoon, neither team held a lead larger than the 47-41 edge BYU had with 10 minutes to go, but Ute Paige Crozon quickly erased that with two consecutive 3-pointers to tie things up.
From there, the teams battled back-and-forth. With 2:13 remaining, Maeda hit a trey of her own to give the Cougars a 58-54 cushion and Utah couldn't claw its way back from the deficit.
"We executed the game plan on defense," Maeda said in regard to how BYU was able to squeak out the win. "We got stops when we needed to, and that's what won us the game."
Cougar head coach Jeff Judkins, who had played in the rivalry himself, was pleased with his team's ability to grind out the win.
"One of those rivalry games," he said. "Ugly, physical, every possession counts, and tonight was just like that. I'm really proud of our team."
In addition to Bailey's 18 points, Maeda finished with 16 and Makenzi Morrison 13.
In a battle with Bailey in the post, Ute senior Taryn Wicijowski finished with a team-high 15 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Tanaeya Boclair added 11.
"We didn't get the outcome that we wanted today, and I'm really disappointed. If it wasn't BYU across the chest, I'd be really happy with our progress," said Utah head coach Anthony Levrets. "You don't ever want to lose to these guys."
With the win, BYU moved to 7-3 while the Utes dropped to 4-5.
Ryan McDonald is a part-time reporter at the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.