Huge plays from Haley Steed and Keilani Unga gave the BYU women’s basketball team a 53–48 win against San Diego on Thursday night in the Marriott Center.
“It’s a great win,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win that I think we needed as a team, to win a close game and come down and execute plays that we needed to.”
With this win BYU completes a conference sweep of San Diego. The Cougars are now 7–2 in West Coast Conference play (16–6 overall), while the Toreros (15–8 overall) drops to 7–4 in the WCC.
“This was a huge game for us because it was on our home court and we haven’t lost here yet this year, and we feel like to win the conference we definitely can’t lose a home game,” Steed said. “San Diego’s at the top of the standings as well, and with the slip up against San Francisco, we really have no wiggle room anymore. We have to take care of every game.”
Despite a sluggish start for the Cougars, it was clear this game was going to be a battle. BYU got down early, but Unga scored four quick points to spark some energy. BYU was not able to come back from its slow start in the first half to get the lead. The Cougars were down by as much as nine points in the first half. San Diego led 22–20 at halftime.
The second half saw a fired up BYU team. Jennifer Hamson quickly tied the score to start the half. The score was tied 10 times and the lead changed three times. There was no breathing room for either team.
The key moment of the game was with 0:48 left in the game and the score tied at 48–48 with possession belonging to the Cougars. A huge offensive rebound by Unga gave BYU another chance to get the lead. With 0:19 left and the shot clock almost out, Steed knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to give BYU a three point lead.
“It’s just one of those situations where you have no choice but to take a shot, so you just need to take it confidently,” Steed said. “It felt good, but it’s just one of those moments that’s in slow motion, and you’re just hoping and praying that it will go in.”
San Diego was not able to respond, and BYU came away with the victory. BYU shot 42.6 percent while holding San Diego to only 33.3 percent. Unga scored a season-high 17 points. She also grabbed seven rebounds. Steed contributed seven points and seven assists.
“When you can win games like that when it’s kind of back and forth the whole game and you come down with one minute left and it’s tied, those are the moments you dream of when you’re little,” Steed said. “When you come out and win in those situations, it’s a huge confidence builder because we’re probably going to be in this situation again. Looking back on this past experience we can draw confidence from this.”
BYU continues WCC play in Moraga, Calif. as they face St. Mary’s on Saturday to battle for the sole possession of second place.