PROVO — Winning ugly can be an attractive thing to a certain type of player. Just ask Shalae Salmon, who helped the BYU women's basketball team grind out a 55-44 win over visiting Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
The 6-foot-3 native New Zealander is always happy and approachable, but perhaps particularly so following a game where the officiating allowed for a lot of contact down low in a game that wouldn't win many beauty contests.
"I love that type of game," Salmon exclaimed during postgame interviews. "I kind of like the contact. I know some other girls don't, but I do."
Salmon led a resurgent BYU group of post players who played a bigger role than usual in the win, aiding an always-efficient Cougar backcourt.
For the game, Salmon contributed eight points on 4-4 shooting from the field and five rebounds. Others contributing in the post included Sara Hamson, who continues to make strides coming off a knee injury sustained just prior to the BYU women's volleyball season, Jasmine Moody, and freshman Babalu Ogwu, who led the Cougars with seven rebounds.
"Babalu had one of those freshman games last Thursday, and I challenged her … and I thought (she responded well,)" said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "And then Sara is starting to play like Sara again."
The Cougars got off to a 30-25 halftime lead behind 11 points scored by Brenna Chase, which led all scorers for the first 20 minutes of play. The junior guard's scoring pace slowed in the second half, but not her overall impact with Judkins electing to play her all 40 minutes.
"I don't think people realize how important that kid is to our team," Judkins said of Chase. "She played 40 minutes tonight, and she had to. She was sick, fought through it and made some big plays for us."
Playing every minute of any game isn't an easy task, but particularly so on the back end of playing four games in just seven days, which is what the Cougar schedule mandated this past week. Doing as much contributed the game's course of play as much as anything, according to Judkins.
"The young ladies aren't probably used to it," Judkins said. "It's tough, and people don't realize how hard that is. It wasn't one of our best games, but it was one of those games where they just toughed it out."3 comments on this story
Both Salmon and freshman Shaylee Gonzales pointed out Chase as the team leader exemplifying the team's toughness on Saturday most with Judkins pointing out the play of sophomore Paisley Johnson, as well.
Gonzales finished Saturday's win scoring 13 points with Johnson adding 10.
LMU was led by Chelsey Gipson and her team-high 12 points.
The Cougars improve to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in West Coast Conference play and will take some much-needed rest before traveling to take on Pacific and then Saint Mary's next Thursday and Saturday, respectively.