Final home game for women’s basketball

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The three seniors on BYU’s women’s basketball team will step onto the Marriott Center court for the last time Thursday against Santa Clara.

“It’s crazy,” senior Haley Steed said. “I’m sure it will hit when the game ends. It just seems so weird, we’ve spent so many years here and played so many games, and I can’t believe it’s over.”

Seniors Steed, Kristen Riley and Dani Peterson will be honored and start the game.

“It’s one of the hardest things for me, having the seniors walk out of here knowing it’s the last time they’ll ever play here,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “They’ve been great examples, they have really been the catalyst of this team so they will be missed, but they all three of them had great careers here.”

After saying goodbye to the Marriott Center, the team will compete against Gonzaga on Saturday on the road. The game is one for the books and is already sold out.

“They’ve lost twice this year on their home court, which is very unusual,” Judkins said. “So I think they can be beaten there. You’ve got to go out and play well though.”

BYU beat third-place San Diego last week, giving the team a solid hold on second place. Gonzaga is currently atop the WCC standings.

“We’ve played there [Gonzaga] before so we know what it’s like,” Riley said. “We know we have to beat them to get the championship. If that’s not fuel enough, I don’t know what is.”

The Cougars can pull into a tie with the Bulldogs with a victory. If the two teams finish tied, BYU would get the top seed in the conference tournament by virtue of a season sweep of Gonzaga.

“We know they’re going to come out really fired up,” Steed said. “We’ve got to be ready for a tough fought game. It’s just going to be one of those games where it comes down to the very end and we just have to stick it out. We can’t wait to go.”

The team has had a lot of support this season from fans, coaches and family members. Riley said her fiance has helped her through the season with everything from class to getting to bed on time. Steed’s husband has also been supportive and hasn’t missed a game.

“He’s my number one fan,” Steed said. “He’s always the first one after the games to come give me a hug and tell me good job. He’s the first one to look at the newspaper and see what recognition the team’s getting. He’s really invested in this team and he loves this team.”

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