Griffeth erupts for 19 points as Cougars crush New Mexico

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    By CLAIRISSA PETT

    It was incredible that the BYU women’s basketball team pulled out an unexpected victory, amazing that the Cougars won with a 10-point comeback, and astonishing that they won with three of their top players out of commission.

    But it was just plain unbelievable that an unassuming offensive threat would come off the bench to score a game-high 19 points.

    Junior forward Alisha Griffeth left all 1,748 fans at the Marriott Center and the entire New Mexico bench with mouths agape as the Cougars routed the Lobos 73-55 Saturday.

    Griffeth, who has averaged only 6.9 minutes per game this season, was on fire, hitting 6-9 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point arc. Her 19 points were matched by teammate Cady Williams, who also contributed a game-high nine rebounds.

    “This was a gigantic win for us,” head coach Trent Shippen said. “This next week will be big for us as well and give us a chance to get one more step toward winning the Pacific Division.”

    The Cougars entered the game in a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Division with New Mexico and the University of Utah. With the win, BYU remains in first place with the Utes, who BYU will face at the Huntsman Center Saturday. The game will be the first of a three-game road trip in which the Cougars will also face Hawaii and San Diego State.

    The Cougars (12-7, 6-1) came back from a 10-point deficit and dismal first half with an incredible defensive effort that shut down the Lobos. Shooting 47 percent in the first half, New Mexico was held to just 18.5-percent shooting in the second — a season best for BYU defensively. The Lobos (14-4, 5-2) found the basket only five times in 27 attempts.

    “That was the key,” said head coach Trent Shippen. “Our defense really stepped up tonight. It all started with Amanda (Covington) who started the second half with an aggressive defense.”

    With Megan Jensen (knee), Lori Henry-Cuff (virus) and Renae Hansen (knee) all out of the lineup, the Cougars just did what they’ve done all season — look to their bench.

    “Coach told us (playing without Megan, Lori and Renae) brought out the best in us,” Williams said.

    That was apparent in the second half when the Cougars scored 45 points with 47-percent shooting.

    Losing a 9-8 advantage early in the first half, BYU finally found the lead again on an inside shot from Lindsay Van Komen that put the Cougars up 39-38 with 13:45 remaining.

    The Lobos missed 11 straight shots before finally finding the basket 11 minutes into the half. From there they were outscored 26-12 as the Cougars built an 18 point advantage. In that stretch, Griffeth delivered 16 points.

    “We did a good job breaking their press and that left me wide open,” Griffeth said.

    Without the Cougars’ regular nucleus of players, Griffeth knew her role was crucial.

    “If I get a chance to play, I do the best I can. That’s all I can do,” she said. “If I’m on the bench, I do my best at cheering on the team. I just try to contribute in any way I can.”

    Center Jill Adams contributed to the second-half offensive explosion with nine points, eight rebounds and six assists. New Mexico had three players in double figures, with Molly McKinnon, Katie Kern and Miranda Sanchez all scoring 12 points.

    Although the 1,748 boisterous fans at the Marriott Center had an extra incentive to attend the game — they received tickets to Saturday’s men’s game against Utah — Shippen was grateful for the attention. After the game, Shippen grabbed the microphone and exclaimed, “We love you.”

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