In the first exhibition game, as well as the first competitive game, the BYU’s women’s basketball team completely shut out Western Oregon University 90-61.
Up 40-29 at halftime, the Cougars increased the difference during the second half, maintaining a safety bubble of around 30 points for the rest of the game.
For over half of the team, including two new assistant coaches, this was their first college basketball game. Head coach Jeff Judkins said it can be a rough transition from practice to your first real game, and that’s why exhibition games are so important.
“When the lights come on, you start thinking you have to do more,” Judkins said. “People don’t realize you have to get used to that. In practice, something goes wrong and I stop it, talk about it, show them. In a game, you have to communicate going back and forth, and it’s a little bit different. And then referees, the score, fans and all these other things that come in play … it takes a while.”
Starting for Thursday’s game were returners Haley Steed, Kim Parker, Kristen Riley and Dani Peterson, as well as freshman Lexi Eaton. Judkins said the starting lineup for tonight’s game will most likely be the one he continues with.
“They really mesh well together,” Judkins said. “All preseason I’ve been changing lineups, and seeing what works best, and I think that’s our best lineup to really start the game.”
Other positives that Judkins noticed consisted of talent.
“I thought my veteran players played really well,” Judkins said. “And I think you saw [that] I do have some really talented freshmen; I think they’re going to be good. It was nice to get everybody in the game because I don’t know if I can guarantee that all the time.”
Though off to a rough first half, which included minimal scoring and a fair amount of fouls, the team came back after halftime ready to fight.
“During halftime, [Coach Judkins] just whipped us around a bit,” senior forward Riley said. “I think first half we just were shell-shocked a bit — at least the new players were. Second half, I think we came out with a lot of fire, and we actually did the things that we wanted to for today’s game plan. We worked harder than in the first half.”
Senior Steed, sophomore Parker and freshman Eaton each ended the game in double-digits.
“Everybody had their shot at a little moment of glory today,” Steed said. “It’s hard to gauge or say that anyone showed up and played an amazing game today. I think that a lot of people showed a lot of positive things … which is exciting.”
The Cougars next take on the Dixie State Red Storm — a game which will, according to Judkins, be a lot better than tonight’s. Steed concurred.
“I think tomorrow’s game will be completely different,” Steed said. “The first game … you feel nervous, you’re excited, you’re a little bit over-hyped. Just getting this first game under our belt, [tonight] will be a different story. I think we’ll know better going into the game what to expect, what we need to focus on.”
Absent from tonight’s game against Western Oregon was sophomore Jennifer Hamson, who had a Cougar volleyball game. Judkins said her presence will only improve the team.