Cougar women pound UNLV, SDSU

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    By Jed McClellan

    The BYU women?s basketball team stayed in the hunt for the Mountain West Conference title by winning two home games last week.

    The Cougars defeated San Diego State Thursday night and pounded UNLV Saturday to improve their conference record to 4-3, tying them with Colorado State for third place in the conference.

    BYU was able to overcome 25 turnovers to beat San Diego State 62-49. The Cougars overcame the abundance of turnovers by shooting just under 50 percent for the game, playing some solid defense of their own, and attacking the boards. The Cougars out-rebounded the Aztecs 44-26 and recorded a season-high 10 blocks.

    The play of Dani Kubik also played a major role.

    ?I thought Kubik came in and gave us a real nice lift inside,? BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said.

    She led the team in scoring with a season-high 14 points, pulled in 7 rebounds and had a team-high three blocks.

    ?I think I?ve been improving a lot,? Kubik said. ?I?ve been listening to the coaches, and they have been helping me out, instructing me what to do. I just tried my hardest to get in there and take some action.?

    For the ninth time this season, the Cougars had three players score in double-figures. Kubik was joined by Julie Sullivan and Mallary Gillespie with 10 each. Kristen Kozlowski just missed scoring in double figures with eight points.

    The Cougars led by just four at halftime 30-26 but opened up the second with an 18-8 run to take control of the game.

    BYU also held Michelle Elliott, San Diego State?s leading scorer, to no field goals and just four points coming from the free-throw line, which is well below her season average of 11.5.

    In the battle of sisters, Ashley Cheesman of San Diego State outscored her older sister Danielle Cheesman of BYU, but she had to play more minutes to get them, and Danielle?s team came away with the win in the first collegiate meeting for the sisters.

    The Cougars followed the win over the Aztecs by sinking UNLV 74-48 two days later.

    ?Tonight, I think was a great team effort,? Judkins said. ?I think a lot of players played well for us tonight.?

    BYU once again used a great team strategy to secure the victory. The Cougars used a season-high 25 assists to shoot a season-high 60.4 percent. Guards Tiari Goold and Sullivan had seven assists each to lead the team.

    ?Our point guards did a great job of taking care of the basketball,? BYU forward Melinda Johnsen said. ?They helped us maintain our composure against UNLV?s press.?

    For the tenth time this season, three different Cougars scored in double figures. Cheesman and Kubik had 14 each and Ambrosia Anderson added 10. Kubik added seven rebounds to match her point and rebound totals for the previous game.

    ?I though Kubik played a real good game in the first half,? Judkins said. ?I think she caused a lot of match-up problems.?

    Judkins had praise for all of his players, and because of the large lead, everyone in uniform got some minutes. However it didn?t start out well for BYU.

    The Rebels got on top of BYU early going up 7-2, but the Cougars battled back to tie it 8-8 at the 16:02 mark. After that, BYU ran wild and outscored UNLV 20-3 over the next six minutes to take a commanding 28-11 lead, but the Rebels wouldn?t quit and battled back to be within nine at halftime, 36-27.

    UNLV came out with a full-court defense in the second half, but the Cougars were able to exploit it and shoot an impressive 68 percent for the half. BYU then used their strong defense and transition baskets to take over the game, leading by as many as 28.

    ?The more we spread them out the more things got open,? Anderson said. ?The whole game was fast-break layups. Our coaches did a great job of breaking down film on them.?

    The Cougars were without senior Kali Taylor, who will be out for three to four weeks with a broken finger, and junior Nancy Seljaas, who will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.

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