PROVO — Sara Hamson’s 18 points helped lead BYU women’s basketball to a 69-64 win over Santa Clara on Saturday in the team’s final regular season game.
“I’m really happy with the end of this game,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “It was one of those games that I knew we could win, but both halves were scary. I have a young team, but Sara really helped us out. I think it was one of the best games she's ever played. She was a force both on defense and offense and it really paid off tonight. We’re excited to go into the postseason, give it all we have and hopefully do some damage.”
Hamson made all 10 free-throw attempts on her way to a career-high 18 points while tying her career high in blocks with nine, pulling in seven rebounds and recording two steals. Paisley Johnson scored 17 points while contributing nine rebounds and three takeaways. Shaylee Gonzales recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds while also dishing out seven assists.
Johnson opened up the scoring for BYU (23-6, 15-3) with a layup and Gonzales hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars the early lead 5-3 over Santa Clara (13-16, 6-12). Brenna Chase knocked down a wide open 3-point shot and Johnson added a 3-pointer of her own to contribute to a 9-3 run to make the score 14-6. Jasmine Moody and Gonzales each scored a jumper while Hamson blocked three Bronco shots in the last four minutes of the period to help BYU lead 18-13 at the end of the quarter.
Santa Clara began the second period with a 7-0 lead to claim a 20-18 advantage. Gonzales tied the game at 20-all the next BYU possession, and the two teams traded baskets with Johnson scoring her second 3-pointer to tie the game at 25-all. The Cougars reclaimed the lead 28-25 with a basket from Moody and a free throw from Gonzales. Off of assists from Gonzales, Hamson scored two layups in the final 90 seconds of the half to put BYU up 32-27 at the break.
Hamson blocked three attempts in the first two minutes of the third period to go along with four points to help extend the Cougars’ lead to 39-27. The sophomore center continued the run with four made free throws, with Gonzales scoring a layup and free throw to push the lead to 46-27. BYU’s defense held the Broncos scoreless for the first four minutes of the third period, leading to the 14-0 run. Hamson added two more free throws while Caitlyn Alldredge scored a layup and free throw to maintain the advantage 51-33. Johnson made a layup and split a pair of free throws to give the Cougars the 56-39 lead at the end of the period.1 comment on this story
Shalae Salmon made a basket in the post and Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws to start the fourth quarter while Santa Clara hit four 3-pointers to cut BYU’s lead to single digits, 60-51. Chase re-extended the Cougars’ lead to double digits, 63-51, with a 3-point make midway through the period. The Broncos continued to chip away at the deficit, bringing the score within five points, 63-58, with 1:45 left in the game. Gonzales scored a layup in traffic and Johnson split a pair of free throws to put BYU up 66-58 with 25 seconds left on the game clock. Gonzales made one of two free throws with Santa Clara knocking down two 3-point jumpers to cut the Cougars’ lead to 67-64 with 2.5 seconds left in the game. Hamson secured BYU’s 69-64 win over Santa Clara with two free throws in the final seconds of the game.
BYU will compete next at the 2019 UCU West Coast Conference Basketball Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Cougars have clinched an automatic bid to play in the tournament’s semifinal on Monday, March 11. The final seeding and schedule will be released on Sunday afternoon.