(Casssie Devashrayee) will to win was the difference tonight, I thought her and Malia (Nawahine) really played well as seniors. —BYU head coach Jeff Judkins
PROVO — Sara Hamson has had a whirlwind 24 hours.
After playing in BYU volleyball’s five-set loss to Kentucky in Lexington on Friday night, Hamson boarded a plane and was back to play basketball against Utah on Saturday afternoon at the Marriott Center. Hamson didn’t just play in the game, she set a career-high, recording nine blocks as the Cougars beat the Utes 77-68.
“I left Wednesday, we were there all week preparing for the Sweet 16, so I played in that game, that didn’t result favorably for us. Immediately after we got back to the hotel, I just shoved all my stuff in the bag,” Hamson said.
Hamson also grabbed nine rebounds in the victory.
“Her presence in the middle, and her rebounding, she made some blocks that they (Utah) had baskets, and she got them, and I think she got Potter not playing her game in the second half, sped her up a little bit, and that’s what we try to do,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said.
Cassie Devashrayee scored a career-high 36 points to lead the Cougars.
“Her will to win was the difference tonight, I thought her and Malia (Nawahine) really played well as seniors,” Judkins said.
Nawahine transfered from Utah to BYU this offseason, and finished with 13 points against her former team.
"It was awesome, it felt great. I was grateful for my teammates, they all played hard, they did their job," Nawahine said. "I'm still friends with all of them (Utah players), so it was a little weird."
In the first half, Utah got to the free-throw line with ease, shooting 20 free throws in the first half. BYU attacked the basket more in the second half, and the Cougars shot 26 free throws in the second half.
“I thought that we just got a little tentative, I thought it was a tale of two halves in terms of free throws. We shot 20 in the first half, they shot 26 in the second half and we shot nine, that’s where the game was won, I thought,” Utah head coach Lynne Roberts said.
Utah shot just 33 percent from the field, while BYU finished shooting 41 percent, including 68 percent in the fourth quarter as the Cougars pulled away to win.
“I’m really proud of this team. We’ve had a real tough couple weeks, and the way they fought back,” Judkins said. “I’m just happy for all of them because it’s been tough.”
Utah opened the contest on a 9-0 run before BYU scored its first basket of the game on a Nawahine 3-pointer five minutes into the game. The Utes started just 3 for 13 from the field, but made nine of their 10 free throws that they attempted in the first quarter.
The Cougars continued to chip away at the Utes’ lead, going on a 7-0 run in the second quarter and cutting the Utes’ lead to as close as one with six minutes left. Utah would build a larger lead, only to have BYU answer with a run of its own. Utah went into the locker room at halftime with a two-point lead, led by Megan Huff, who put up 12 for the Utes in the first half. BYU was aided by Devashrayee, who scored 10 points before the half. Utah struggled shooting from the field, shooting 29 percent, but kept knocking down free throws to keep its lead.
The Cougars took their first lead of the game with eight minutes left in the third quarter on a Devashrayee 3-pointer that gave them a three-point lead, but Utah’s defense clamped down, holding BYU without a field goal for the next four minutes, but with five minutes in the third quarter, Devashrayee scored the next six points for BYU. Erika Bean responded with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four heading into the final 10 minutes of the contest.
With four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Daneesha Provo made a 3-pointer to bring the Utes within four, but BYU responded with two made shots by Devashrayee. From there, it was all BYU, with Utah turning the ball over three times in a two-minute span and the Cougars extending their lead to 12 points.