By ANNA HAYNIE
It didn’t take long for the BYU women’s basketball team to establish ownership of the court in its game against Air Force Academy on Thursday night, March 2.
The Cougars came out strong in the first half and cruised past the Falcons 86-69 in the Marriott Center for their 19th win of the season.
“We were pretty confident we had the win coming into the game,” senior Alisha Griffeth said.
Maybe it was because the BYU women’s basketball team had freshman Erin Thorn on its side.
Thorn was one of 10 girls in the nation picked for the WBNS All-Freshman first team.
Coach Shippen was certainly proud.
“This is a big award for Erin,” Shippen said.
“I think it says a lot for the team as well. You don’t get that kind of award unless your team is doing well.”
The Cougars (19-7, 9-4) came out and ran circles around the Falcons (4-22, 1-12) — at least in the first half.
After the first 20 minutes of play, the Cougars had more than doubled the Falcons’ score, 53-24, and had six turnovers to the Falcons’ 20.
BYU also led with eight steals, and had five treys to the Falcons’ two.
The second half was a different story.
The Cougars finished with 24 turnovers, and added only one three-pointer to the Falcons’ game total of seven and tied the Falcons with 15 steals.
“It wasn’t the prettiest second half,” Shippen admitted.
Shippen said he was trying to give everyone playing time.
“The chemistry didn’t always mesh,” he said. “Also, our defensive intensity slacked off a bit.”
Shippen handed a lot of credit to the Falcons, who outscored the Cougars in the second half.
“Their motivation changed in the second half,” Shippen said. “Their energy level picked up and they played really hard.”
With the win, the Cougars are headed in the right direction for a boost in their seeding for next week’s Mountain West Conference tournament.
The Cougars have, to this point, fulfilled their preseason pick of fourth place in the conference, and a win this Saturday against New Mexico could boost them to third.
“If we take care of business on Saturday we should hold third place going in to the tournament,” Shippen said.
The Cougars feel their chances of doing just that are pretty good.
“I think we’ve improved since the last time we played UNM,” senior Lori Cuff said. “If we play a tough game hard, we’re a better team and can win.”
The Cougars face New Mexico on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Marriott Center.