Golden girl: Colorado ends BYU’s season, Erin Thorn’s college career

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    By Leigh Dethman

    Although it wasn”t a perfect ending, Erin Thorn had a near-perfect career as a BYU Cougar.

    BYU was blown out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament by the University of Colorado. The Buffaloes dominated the Cougars throughout the game, winning 84-45.

    BYU managed only 18 points in the first half, ten of which came from Thorn. BYU shot an ugly 28 percent from the field compared to Colorado”s 30 percent overall.

    Colorado coach Ceal Barry said she thought her team could hold Thorn to only 10 points total in the game. Coaches, fans and media members alike gaffed at the comment, but Colorado”s defense upheld Barry”s claim. Thorn was scoreless in the second half.

    Even though her college career came to a sudden stop, Thorn should keep her head up. She has done some amazing things in her four years at BYU.

    Thorn was a key component in the Cougars” amazing Cinderella run in last season”s NCAA tournament. That year, BYU finished in the Sweet Sixteen after a decisive 90-52 win against Florida. In the second round game, the Cougars upset host Iowa State on its home court 75-69 before falling in the Sweet Sixteen to Final Four participant Tennessee 68-57.

    Without Thorn, BYU probably would not have even made it to the Big Dance this season. BYU finished its conference schedule with a lackluster 8-6 record and entered the Mountain West Conference Tournament as the fifth seed. Thorn scored a combined 64 points to get the Cougars to the championship game, where they fell to New Mexico 52-46.

    Coach Jeff Judkins has some big shoes to fill next season. Finding someone to replace 18.8 points, 5.7 assists and a 92 percent free throw percentage is no easy task.

    Thorn is every coach”s dream. She can do anything, rebound, defend, lead a young team and most of all – score.

    “Erin”s had to do everything for this team,” Judkins said. “She had to defend the best players. She had to score. She had to pass it. She had to lead this team.”

    The sign of a champion is the willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Thorn is always the first person to arrive and the last person to leave practice. Thorn expects the best from both herself and her teammates every day in practice or during games.

    “Her willingness or heart to not let this team lose rubs off,” Judkins said.

    She”ll be a great employee someday, Thorn never misses a day of work. She fought through sickness and injury to start every single game in her four years at BYU. That”s 127 straight games.

    Thorn is only the fourth player in BYU basketball history to make it into the 2,000-point club. She finished her career with 2,061 points.

    Three-point range is where Thorn seems to be the most comfortable. Thorn finished the season hitting at least one three pointer in 39 consecutive games. The last time she failed to make a three-pointer in a game was Feb. 23, 2003 against Utah. Thorn holds the BYU record in three pointers with 393.

    Thorn has enough awards to fill a hallway filled with trophy cases. Thorn was named to the MWC All Tournament Team all four years at BYU. She notched MWC first team honors in her sophomore, junior and senior years and was named to the MWC second team her freshman year. Thorn was named MWC Freshman of the Year.

    Thorn has also garnered national attention. In 1999-2000, the Women”s Basketball News Service named Thorn to their Freshman All-America team. And in the 2000-2001, Thorn was a Kodak Honorable Mention All-American.

    Her playing days at BYU might be over, but Thorn”s basketball career has a bright future. During the Cougars” loss to Colorado, an ESPN announcer said, “If the WNBA is watching, Erin Thorn should be on their checklist.”

    Thorn is amazing. She even holds the awe of her coach, who played in the NBA.

    “If there is a player that reminds me of me while I played in the NBA, it is Erin Thorn,” Judkins told ESPN. He said she does all the little things coaches can”t teach.

    Even though her many records may someday be broken, Thorn will leave a lasting legacy at BYU.

    Thank you, Erin, for making BYU basketball an unforgettable experience. BYU will never be the same without you.

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