By SCOTT BELL
Snow White and Cinderella weren’t there, but the women’s basketball team’s 76-67 win over Southern Utah Tuesday at the Marriott Center had all the other trappings of a classic fairy tale.
The moral of the story: Winning is a habit, and the Cougars are beginning to pick it up.
“Our team is starting to learn how to win again,” said senior Kari Gallup. “It’s been a tough few years here. We haven’t won a lot. We have to learn to win again, and I think we’re starting to.”
The win was BYU’s first on the year and gave it a 1-2 record.
The second half fit into the evening’s storybook theme perfectly. The half divided succinctly into four acts.
Act 1: Southern Utah opened the half with an 11-2 run to take a 47-38 lead after being tied at halftime.
Act 2: The Cougars fought back with a 14-0 run to jump ahead 52-47. Lori Henry led the spurt with seven points.
Act 3: The T-Birds went on another run, this time scoring nine straight points while the Cougars failed to score for 7:05. With six minutes remaining, SUU led 56-52.
Act 4, or Gallup time: The Canadian-born guard suddenly woke up and took the Cougars home, scoring 16 of her 18 points in the final 4:02.
Gallup scored eight straight points, including two three-pointers, in a one minute stretch to put BYU ahead to stay 66-62.
“I didn’t care who scored, I just wanted to win,” Gallup said. “I was open so I had to take the shots. I just had to step up because I wasn’t doing anything at first.”
Gallup finished with 18 points to tie for the team high with Barbie Carmichael who also threw down 18. Angela Burgess provided a spark off the bench with 13, and Henry finished with 12.
The win came on the heals of two tough losses for the Cougars. In their first game of the year, the Cougars fell to Portland 87-63 after staying close in the first half.
“I told the girls I was scared to death after that game,” said coach Trent Shippen. “We just gave up when we got down by 10 points.”
Last game, BYU stayed close to a Colorado team that went to the final eight in last year’s NCAA tournament. Colorado didn’t pull away until the final few minutes.
Tuesday was another step in the right direction for the team. The Cougars face Pacific on the road Monday in their next game.
“We’re going to be there at the end of the year,” Gallup said. “We’re going to be a dang good team.”
Hopefully, all will end well, just like in the fairy tales.