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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars guard Brenna Chase (1) and Loyola Marymount Lions guard Cierra Belvin (35) fight for the ball in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.
They did a good job getting us off rhythm, so you just have to get to the free-throw line. You’ve got to get those easy baskets, and get those junk baskets. —BYU guard Cassie Devashrayee

PROVO — It's not the best winning formula to go without a single made field goal throughout the fourth quarter, but that's what the BYU women's team did in grinding out a 62-52 win over Loyola Marymount on Thursday.

Tenacious defense, some stagnant offense and a whole lot of fouls defined the play on both sides, with the Cougars able to hang on for an important conference win.

"That was an ugly game tonight," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "I'm sure it was an ugly game to watch and it was an ugly game to coach, but I knew it would be that way."

As for the fourth quarter, the Cougars went in holding a commanding 51-39 lead, before the Lions cut it down to 53-48 with 3:49 remaining. Compounding matters was freshman standout center Sara Hamson drawing her fifth foul as the Cougars looked ready for the taking.

“We were kind of standing around and not moving,” Judkins said. “We didn’t have energy and we kind of let them back in. That’s where you have a great player like Cassie, when your team can’t score and when they’re struggling — that’s when you have a player like that — it makes a big difference.”

Indeed, Cassie Devashrayee willed her team toward the finish line by taking the game on her shoulders and forcing herself into the lane, while causing some contact. The result was a game-high 25 points scored for the senior while going 11 of 12 from the line and dishing out five assists.

“I needed to get to the free throw line — get to the basket to create something,” Devashrayee said of her fourth-quarter mentality. “They kept fouling, which was nice, so I could get to the free throw line…They did a good job getting us off rhythm, so you just have to get to the free-throw line. You’ve got to get those easy baskets, and get those junk baskets.”

Also fouling out for the Cougars was starting forward Amanda Wayment and starting guard Malia Nawahine. Filling in admirably for Nawahine was freshman Paisley Johnson, who earned herself 32 minutes played and responded with nine points while playing some solid defense.

“Tonight she had to play a lot of minutes, and she was ready,” Judkins said. “Paisley came in and played really hard and did a really great job of really attacking the basket and hitting a couple of shots. She’s going to be a good player and you can see that.”

As much as the offensive flow bogged down in the fourth, the two middle quarters were a different story, with the Cougars scoring 22 in the second and then 19 in the third. They did as much by finding open looks, particularly from 3-point range, and making true on more than several attempts.

"We got some stops, which definitely helped us, and we limited how many rebounds (they) got in the second and third quarter, so that was a huge lift for us," Devashrayee said. "...For us the key is defense, and in the first quarter we weren't sticking to our identity, and it really hurt us."

That first quarter saw LMU get off to a 16-10 lead before the Cougars took back the lead at 32-30 entering the half.

With the win BYU improved to 13-9 overall, but more importantly, to 8-3 in West Coast Conference play, two games clear of LMU, which fell to 6-5, with the loss. Next up is a critical game versus Gonzaga, which is 10-0 in WCC play, Saturday at the Marriott Center.

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney