Everything she did tonight was just a real positive for us. —BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins
PROVO — BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins is good at sharing exactly how he feels during postgame interview sessions. When he's upset, he lets you know it in plain language, and vice versa when he's pleased.
After his team's 65-47 win over visiting Santa Clara on Saturday, Judkins was generally all smiles after his team overcame a rough start — a very rough start —to win going away.
“I’m happy. I think we’re playing better,” Judkins said. “I think we still have some things we need to figure out. I’ve got to get my bigs scoring better and becoming more of an offensive threat, and it’s something I’m going to work on these next couple of weeks for sure.”
While the bigs may need some work, in Judkins' opinion, the backcourt players were in a groove, particularly sophomore guard Brenna Chase, who scored a career-high 23 points in the win. The Thornton, Colorado, product filled up the stat sheet, recording seven rebounds, dishing out four assists, and collecting four steals.
Her best work was done in the third quarter, when scoring 12 points and amping up her defensive pressure. The Cougars outscored the Broncos 21-10 in the quarter to enter the final frame with a 50-36 advantage.
“Everything she did tonight was just a real positive for us,” Judkins said. “That’s what’s nice about this team. Last week it was Malia (Nawahine) and this week it was Brenna. Brenna stepped it up and did what she needed to do, so I’m very happy about that.”
BYU's Brenna Chase shoots over Ashlyn Herlihy in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. BYU won 65-47. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
As good as she was offensively, Chase credited her defensive effort as the catalyst.
“I definitely used my defense to spark my offense,” Chase said. “I think my team helped me to up my defense and up my pressure tonight with Cassie (Devashrayee) on the wings. It really helped us get a couple of steals and get back in the flow of our offense.”
On the offensive side, Chase attempted 12 shots from behind the arc, making five.
“Jud(kins) tells me to just shoot it when I’m open, so I just shoot it when I’m open. It’s as simple as that,” Chase said.
Things didn't start all that smoothly for the Cougars, however, with the Broncos' tough zone defense proving tough to figure out given the reduced preparation time. Judkins' team played on the road Thursday, returning to the Marriott Center for an afternoon matchup against one of the tougher defensive teams in the West Coast Conference.
After scoring just eight points in the first quarter the Cougars put together 21 points in both the second and third quarters, as they began to figure the zone out.
“We’ve never seen a zone like that and we really didn’t have a lot of time to practice against something like that,” Judkins said. “So it’s nice to have an ace in your pocket.”
That ace was Devashrayee, who was used in a bit of a different offensive role to help open things up and exploit Santa Clara's defense. Devashrayee finished with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting and had a team-high eight rebounds.
Santa Clara was led by Morgan McGwire's 23 points.
With the win BYU improves to 5-1 in conference play and 10-7 overall. Next up are a couple of road games at Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's this Thursday and Saturday, respectively.