The BYU women’s basketball team lost to West Coast Conference top team Gonzaga on the road Saturday night, as the home team rode strong fan support to a double-digit win.
The regular season conference championship title was on the line as BYU (24-6) took on Gonzaga (25-4). The Bulldogs won, 77-60, to earn the championship. The Cougars will be in the second spot for the WCC tournament in Las Vegas this week.
The Cougars started out hot by putting a quick eight points on the board but Gonzaga kept it close, putting a lot of pressure on BYU. Gonzaga Guard Katelan Redmon was the high scorer for the Bulldogs, putting 28 points on the board.
Senior Haley Steed kept a cool head and tried to help the Cougars execute their offensive plays. BYU couldn’t find its rhythm offensively, costing the team 13 turnovers in the first half.
The game continued to be close, as a Stephanie Vermunt jumper pulled the Cougars within two at halftime.
In the first minutes of the second half, freshman Lexi Eaton got her fourth foul which sent her to the bench. Gonzaga was all over BYU as it pulled ahead with a strong lead.
“They played really well against us defensively tonight,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said in a phone interview. “We didn’t get the ball where we needed to. Defensively we gave them a lot of easy baskets.”
Similar to the home game BYU played against Gonzaga earlier in the year, the home team came out in the second half and put the game away by gaining a 17-point lead early on.
“It just seemed like we got pushed around a little bit,” Judkins said. “Their pressure bothered us tonight.”
Steed was a star during the game with 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“We wanted to be No. 1,” Judkins said. “We had a chance to win a conference and it slipped through our fingers.”
The Cougars ended the game shooting 36.4 percent on field goals, 45 percent from beyond the arc and 78.6 percent from the free throw line.
“We’ll rebound and we’ll get back,” Judkins said. “We’ve got a great chance to win the tournament, hopefully we’ll have the desire to really want to do it.”
BYU heads to the WCC tournament and the team’s first game will be Saturday afternoon.