By Leigh Dethman
BYU is in unfamiliar territory.
Although the women”s basketball team started out the season winning five straight games, the Cougars have struggled in two consecutive road losses.
The Cougars have been annihilated in the post during losses to George Washington University and the University of Oregon. The Colonials and Ducks combined to outscore BYU 62-28 in the paint.
“We are absolutely getting killed,” coach Jeff Judkins said.
The Cougars face North Carolina State on Saturday night Dec. 14. BYU must stop the Wolfpack”s 6-foot-3 center Kaayla Chones, who is averaging 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
“Part of our problem is that the past two games the teams had good posts and good shooters,” Judkins said. “We felt like we could cover their posts one on one, and it hasn”t worked out.
“NC State has two really good posts, but their outside game isn”t as good.”
Judkins said the team can take advantage of the Wolfpack”s lack of outside shooting and double team the post.
Coach Jeff Judkins has some big shoes to fill, as senior forward Jennifer Leitner did not make the trip with the Cougars. Leitner is averaging 15.8 points 9.7 rebounds per game this year.
“It hurts not having Leitner,” Judkins said. “Jen had an ear infection and didn”t make the trip.”
Senior guard Erin Thorn said Leitner has the skills to lead the team. In the win against the University of San Francisco on Dec. 5, Leitner scored seven points in the last three minutes of the game to escape with a 68-65 win.
“We escaped with that one because Leitner took the team on her shoulders and carried us through,” Thorn said.
Every member of the Wolfpack”s starting five is a threat. In a come-from-behind victory against Florida on Dec. 7, all five starters scored in double digits. Senior forward Carisse Moody recorded four straight double-doubles, averaging 11.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Saturday”s game will be the first ever between the Cougars and the Wolfpack.
Judkins will be walking the sidelines in pain. In the win against Weber State on Nov. 30, Judkins suffered a herniated disc in his back.
“Part of the disc broke off and went into my nerve,” Judkins said. “Last week I was in a lot of pain. I want to get it fixed so I can coach this team.”
Judkins will have surgery Monday.
“I”ll probably be out a couple days,” Judkins said. “We don”t have many games the next 12 days. I just don”t want to flame it up the next couple days.”
The Cougars get a short break for finals before traveling to Albuquerque, N.M. to face the University of Alabama in the Triple Crown Classic.