BYU women’s basketball fell to San Diego, 78-65, in its first game of West Coast Conference play on Wednesday, despite 23 points from senior guard Lexi Eaton Rydalch.
"We played out of sync today," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "We didn't have the energy and urgency we needed to win the game. We also didn't defend as well as we usually do and we got outrebounded. We had chances, but we couldn't make the baskets we needed to. We'll have to play better as conference play goes on."
Rydalch led all scorers with a game-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists, while teammate Kalani Purcell recorded her fifth double-double of the year scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Four Cougars scored in double figures with Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher adding 11 and Cassie Broadhead chipping in 10 to go along with Rydalch and Purcell. Micaelee Orton returned to action playing three minutes after missing seven games due to injury.
BYU (8-4) finished the contest with 10 steals to San Diego's (11-1) five, while the Toreros outrebounded the Cougars, 47 to 29. BYU dished out 13 assists, with Rydalch and Purcell tallying a team-high four assists apiece, and San Diego had 10 assists for the game.
The Toreros struck first on a layup by Maya Hood to take the 2-0 lead, but on the next possession the Cougars equaled the score on a layup off the glass by Purcell. The teams then continued to trade baskets, giving the Cougars the 9-8 advantage on a back door layup by Rydalch with 6:20 to go in the first period. Pulsipher gave BYU its biggest lead of the game, 12-8, on a 3-point field goal, her first of the game and 19th of the season.
San Diego then went on a 6-0 run to take the 14-12 lead behind four points from Malina Hood. Rydalch stopped the run on the next play converting a 10-foot jumper, tying the score at 14-14. The Toreros closed the period on a 7-2 run giving them the 21-16 advantage after 10 minutes of play.
Purcell and Rydalch led the Cougars with a team-high four points apiece, while Purcell had a team-high five rebounds and three assists. BYU shot 50.0 percent from behind the arc to San Diego’s 0.0 percent.
Rydalch opened the second period converting a layup to cut the Toreros lead to three, 21-18. With the basket, Rydalch scored her 2,000th point as a Cougar, becoming the fifth member of the 2,000 point club in BYU women’s basketball history. Rydalch then cut the San Diego lead to one, 21-20, giving her eight points through the first 12 minutes of play.
Maya Hood extended the Toreros lead to seven, 27-20, at the 4:48 mark of the second period to give San Diego its largest lead of the game. Purcell then reduced the Torero lead to four, 27-23, sinking one of two free throws. On the next Cougars’ out of bounds play, Cassie Broadhead continued BYU’s run, cutting the deficit to two, 27-25, as she slashed through the lane to convert a wide-open layup. Rydalch tied the game at 31-31 on a layup of her own with 1:40 to go in the half.
The two teams then traded baskets on the final possessions of the second period to make the halftime score 36-33 in the Torero’s favor.
BYU shot 44.1 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of play, while San Diego shot 48.4 percent. The Cougars turned the ball over five times while the Toreros gave up the ball 10 times. San Diego outrebounded BYU, 22 to 15, in the first half. Rydalch led all scorers with a game-high 12 points, going 6-for-13 from the field.
The Toreros came out strong out of the break to go up seven, 42-35, behind four points from Sydney Williams. BYU then scored on three-straight possessions behind five points from Pulsipher to make the score 42-40, forcing a Torero timeout. San Diego went on a 9-0 run out of its timeout to go up 11, 53-42, with 3:18 to go in the third period. Broadhead scored four-straight points to cut the deficit to seven, 53-46, but the Toreros scored on the next possession to give them the 55-46 lead going in to the fourth period.
To open the fourth period, Broadhead made another jumper to give her six-straight points and a total of 10 for the game. San Diego then extended its lead to 11, 59-48, on a 3-point field goal by Malina Hood at the 8:01 mark.
The Cougars cut the lead to eight, 61-53, on a reverse layup by Purcell with 4:29 to go in the game. At the 3:11 mark, Rydalch drove into the lane making it a five point advantage, 63-58, in the Toreros favor. San Diego then increased its lead back to nine with less than two minutes to go.
BYU women’s basketball returns to the Marriott Center on New Year's Eve to take on Saint Mary’s in its first home game of WCC play. Tip off is at 1 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv. Links to live stats and streamed audio for the game can be found on the BYU women’s schedule page.