BYU hits the road to take on St. Mary’s

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The BYU women’s basketball team will continue its tough week of West Coast Conference play on the road at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

BYU (16–6, 7–2 WCC) is looking to build off of its big win against San Diego on Thursday night in the Marriott Center. The Cougars won 53–48 in a match that saw the score tied 10 times and the lead change three times. St. Mary’s also won a close game on Thursday night. St. Mary’s (15–6) defeated Portland 58–53 to improve its WCC record to 7–2. St. Mary’s and BYU are tied for second place in the WCC.

“This is going to be one of the toughest weeks,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “The only advantage is that we played St. Mary’s last week, so we’re kind of comfortable with them. We match-up really well with St. Mary’s.”

BYU’s Keilani Unga scored 17 points in Thursday’s game against San Diego. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

Just last week on January 31, St. Mary’s traveled to Provo to play BYU. The Cougars pulled out a 66–58 win over the Gaels. Three of BYU’s players were in double figures, which helped fight off the efforts of St. Mary’s. The Gaels’ forward Jackie Nared earned a double-double in their loss (18 points and 11 rebounds).

The Cougars’ victory over the Gaels was a breakout game for senior and co-captain Keilani Unga. Since that game, she is averaging 14.3 points and 6 rebounds.

“I think Keilani really set a great tone for the other players knowing that you need to be prepared and ready to go,” Judkins said.

The other BYU captain, senior Haley Steed, has been a crucial member of the team this season. She is leading the nation in assists per game and consistently makes big shots. In the game against San Diego on Thursday, Steed hit the game-winning three-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game.

“It’s not like this is the first time she’s ever stepped it up in a big situation and made that play,” Judkins said. “What’s special about a player like (Haley) is that she doesn’t let one half affect the next half. She just continues to play and do a good job.”

The Cougars are hoping to build off of their exciting win against the Toreros to improve their winning streak to four games.

“I’m expecting to win both games for sure,” freshman Kylie Maeda said. “And I think we’ve been playing a lot better together, so it’s exciting.”

BYU and St. Mary’s battle for the sole possession of second place in the WCC in Moraga, Calif., on Saturday at 2 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on BYU Radio for fans to follow along.

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