In a hard-fought battle at the Leavey Event Center, BYU topped Santa Clara, 68-63, in its fourth conference game of the season Thursday.
“The win came down to execution and pivotal stops in the final few minutes of the game,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We missed some foul shots we usually make, but we were able to convert in other ways. It was a great team win.”
BYU (11-4, 3-1) finished the game shooting 33.9 percent from the field to Santa Clara’s (12-4, 3-2) 33.8. The Cougars outrebounded the Broncos, 44-43, and both teams dished out 13 assists. The Cougars finished the contest with 14 turnovers to the Broncos 15. BYU is now 11-1 all-time against Santa Clara.
Lexi Eaton Rydalch finished the game with 27 points, five rebounds and three assists. Rydalch now has scored 20 or more points in 11 of BYU’s 15 games this year. Kalani Purcell recorded a career-high 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Purcell shot 9-for-12 from the free-throw line. Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher added seven points, five rebounds and three steals.
With less than three minutes to play in the contest, Rydalch converted a pair of free throws to give the Cougars the 62-58 advantage over the Broncos. At the 1:14 mark, Pulsipher gathered a loose ball in Santa Clara’s back court and dribbled the ball toward BYU’s basket to convert the fast break layup but was fouled hard by Marie Bertholdt. Pulsipher was unable to shoot the free throws, instead Cassie Broadhead came in to shoot the pair for the injured Pulsipher. Broadhead’s made free throws gave the Cougars the 64-58 lead.
On the next possession, Kyla Martin was fouled by Amanda Wayment sending her to the free-throw line where she went 0-for-2. Kylie Maeda was fouled on the inbounds pass from Purcell and was then sent to the line with 54 seconds to go. Maeda made both free throws to put BYU up eight, 66-58.
The Broncos then cut the Cougar lead to five, 66-61. Santa Clara fouled Rydalch with 19 seconds to go, but she missed the pair of free throws. The Broncos pushed the ball up court and Martin’s last desperation shot was blocked by Purcell with 11 seconds to go and was brought down by Rydalch. She sank the next two free throws to ice the game.
After four quick total fouls called within the first two minutes of the first period, BYU led Santa Clara, 6-3, with three of its six points coming from the charity stripe. Rydalch extended the Cougar’s lead to five, 10-5, hitting an 18-foot jump shot as she capitalized on the Broncos 2-3 zone. Teams then traded baskets through the middle part of the first period with Santa Clara cutting the lead to one, 16-15, at the 2:15 mark.
The Broncos went into the second 10 minutes of action with the 20-16 lead, while Rydalch led BYU with a team-high five points. Santa Clara outrebounded BYU, 12-6, through the first 10 minutes of play.
BYU started the second period strong on a 5-0 lead to put the Cougars up 21-20. The Broncos then regained the lead, 25-21, on a pair of free throws and a 3-point field goal by Marie Bertholdt. After Santa Clara extended its lead to seven, Pulsipher cut the Bronco lead to five, 28-23, on a long jumper from the corner. With 4:23 to go in the half, Purcell beat her defender to the basket for the score, cutting the deficit to three, 28-25.
With 1:49 to go in the second period, Kristine Fuller Nielson hit her two points of the game to make the score 35-32. Santa Clara then increased its lead to finish the first half going into halftime up 39-32.
The Cougars shot 50.0 percent in the first half to the Broncos 43.2 percent, while BYU turned the ball over nine times and Santa Clara gave the ball away four times.
Going into the half, Purcell led BYU with a team-high nine points and four rebounds. Rydalch added seven points and three assists, while Pulsipher chipped in four points to go along with four first half rebounds.
Rydalch gave BYU its first two points of the second half as she sank a pair of free throws at the 9:24 mark. Rydalch then cut the Santa Clara deficit to two, 39-37, hitting her second 3-point field goal of the game on the next possession. Purcell continued to keep the Cougar run alive by converting two free throws to tie the score at 39-39.
With 5:02 to go in the third period, BYU put Santa Clara in the bonus after committing five second half fouls. The Broncos took the lead again, 45-39. Minutes later, Purcell gathered an offensive rebound and got fouled. She made one of two free throws to cut the lead to two, 47-45. As the third period buzzer sounded, Rydalch hit a deep three to make the score 49-48 going into the fourth period.
BYU opened the quarter with another 3-point field goal by Rydalch to give the Cougars the 51-50 lead. With 6:38 to go, Kyla Martin converted a three-point play for the Broncos to tie the game at 52-all.
At the 4:25, Santa Clara took the lead, 55-54, on a layup by Lori Parkinson. Rydalch then converted her fifth 3-point field goal of the game to give the Cougars the 58-57 advantage. BYU finished the contest on a 10–5 run.
BYU women’s basketball continues its Bay Area road trip to take on the University of San Francisco on Saturday. The game tips off at 3 p.m. MST, and will be carried live on BYU Radio on Sirius XM 143 and online. Links to the audio stream, live stats and streamed video for the game can be found on the BYU women’s schedule page.