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BYU's Paisley Johnson (center) dribbles by a defender. She recorded a career-high 25 points in the Cougars win over Saint Mary's on Saturday afternoon.

The BYU women’s basketball team held on to win against Saint Mary’s, 74-73, to stay undefeated in the West Coast Conference on Saturday afternoon at McKeon Pavilion.

“We had a great defensive effort at the end of the game,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “This team doesn’t give up, and that’s really good to see. It’s hard to win here, so this is really a big win for us. Paisley was unstoppable tonight, and I thought Jasmine had a really good game for us defensively.”

The Cougars, who are on an eight-game winning streak and 6-0 in conference play, escaped with another win after a late surge from the Gaels brought the game within one point with only 22 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

After BYU took a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Saint Mary’s kept the game alive going on an 8-0 run to cut BYU’s led to 74-71 with just less than two minutes to go. The Gaels took possession with 58 seconds left in the game, but a block from Shalae Salmon and a shot clock violation gave the Cougars the ball. However, BYU turned the ball over, and Saint Mary’s netted a jumper bring the lead margin to one point, 74-73.

With the Gaels taking possession after a timeout, BYU chose to drain the clock to 14 seconds by fouling before Paisley Johnson stole the ball forcing Saint Mary’s to call another timeout. BYU in-bounded the ball, but a foul was called on Sara Hamson giving possession back to the Gaels with 0.03 seconds left on the clock. Saint Mary’s Carly Turner put up a 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the win, but the ball missed the net and the Cougars took the win 74-73.

Johnson led all scorers with a career-high of 25 points going 9-for-13 on field goals. It was her second-straight 20-plus game after scoring 24 on Thursday night against Pacific and her fourth of the 2018 season. Shaylee Gonzales also netted 20 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. It was also her second-straight game with 20-plus points.

The Cougars went 11-for-22 from behind the arc to pace the offense.

Both teams capitalized on their shots in the first quarter of the game. The Gaels put up the first points, but BYU answered back. The two teams traded baskets before Saint Mary’s pulled ahead, scoring three treys to make the score 17-14. A 3-pointer from Brenna Chase gave the Cougars its first lead of the game, followed by a jumper from Gonzales making the score 20-17. The Gaels closed out the first quarter netting a 3-pointer to tie the game at 20-all.

BYU took the lead to open the second quarter as Salmon posted a layup. Saint Mary’s quickly answered back, sinking a 3-pointer and a layup taking the lead again with the score at 25-23. But back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnson and one from Chase put BYU ahead with the score at 31-25. The Gaels cut the lead margin going on a 9-2 run, taking back the lead and making the score 38-37. Babalu Ugwu closed out the second quarter netting two points from the charity line to give BYU the advantage, 39-38, going into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the Cougars scored the first basket, but good defense from the Gaels put BYU into a scoring drought. Saint Mary’s capitalized on its defensive efforts going on an 11-2 run to take the lead at 49-43. It wasn’t long before the Cougars found their rhythm again, going on a 12-0 run and again taking back the lead, 55-49. A jumper from Johnson ended the third quarter with BYU ahead 65-56.

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The Cougars opened up the final quarter taking advantage of three-straight Saint Mary’s turnovers to tally the biggest lead of the day, going up 13 points and making the score 69-56. However, a late surge from Saint Mary’s brought the game within three points, after going on an 8-0 run to make the score 74-71. With only 0.03 left on the clock, the Gaels took possession of the ball but ultimately missed a buzzer-beater 3-pointer, and BYU won 74-73.

BYU returns home to take on Gonzaga on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. MST, in the Marriott Center. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv with live stats available on the schedule page.