BYU looks to bounce back against St. Mary’s

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The BYU women’s basketball team will look to come back from a disappointing loss on Saturday as the St. Mary’s Gaels visit the Marriott Center on Thursday to continue West Coast Conference play.

BYU hopes to get a key victory against St. Mary’s, whose lone WCC loss came against San Diego (14–5 overall). The Cougars have lost two conference games, both of which were away games. BYU (13–6 overall) is undefeated at home this season.

BYU guard Kim Beeston dribbles past Pepperdine defender Shay Cooney-Williams on Jan. 12. The Cougars take on St. Mary’s in the Marriott Center on Thursday. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

The Cougars are coming off of a 56–65 loss against San Francisco despite a strong second half comeback. That game taught BYU a lot of lessons that need to be learned.

“We need to get inside presence,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We haven’t had the presence inside that we’ve had earlier in the year or during parts of the year, and over the weekend we really didn’t do very well against San Francisco of getting the ball inside and scoring it.”

BYU’s inside presence has struggled recently. The team’s leading scorer, center Jennifer Hamson, has scored a total of six points in the Cougars’ two WCC losses. Meanwhile, in the past two games, BYU has taken 51 shots from beyond the arc and has made 19 of those shots. In the Cougars’ loss to San Francisco, they only scored 16 points in the paint.

“I feel like we’ve been relying more on our outside game when we have some of the best bigs in the league,” junior Kim Beeston said. “In order for us to start winning, we need to start getting the ball inside more.”

It isn’t all bad news for BYU. The Cougars have been able to take away some positive aspects of their conference games last week.

“We stuck together, even in the San Francisco game,” Beeston said. “We made a comeback and still believed in each other. We’re a good team, but sometimes we lose focus.”

St. Mary’s is fresh off of a 68–63 victory on Monday night against San Francisco. Three of the Gaels players were in double figures, including a season-high 20 points from Kate Gaze. The Gaels are tied for first in the conference with Gonzaga.

“I think we’re all just really excited to get that loss out of our minds, to play how we can play,” junior Stephanie Seaborn said. “(Judkins) kind of said it best: we haven’t really played our basketball in the past three games. We’re due to have a good game.”

BYU and St. Mary’s tip-off on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center and will air on BYUtv. Thursday is also Kid’s Night, and children under 12 can get into the game for free. There will be different activities such as face painting, balloon animals and a photo booth.

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