The BYU women’s basketball team fell to third place in the West Coast Conference after losing 64–52 to St. Mary’s on Saturday.
In a game that saw a tied score three times and a lead change eight times, the Cougars were not able to stay with the Gaels. BYU (16–6) is now 7–3 in WCC play, while St. Mary’s (16–6) improves to 8–2 to gain sole possession of second place in the WCC.
“I think they got every hustle play, every loose ball (and) every rebound,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “When you’re on the road, you can’t do that.”
The Cougars had a rough start because of turnovers, an issue that didn’t get better as the game progressed, making it easier for the Gaels to pull ahead. BYU finished the game with 17 turnovers while St. Mary’s had only eight.
BYU was once again led by the seniors and captains. Haley Steed led all scorers with 18 points and also dished out seven assists. Keilani Unga scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
“Haley’s tough, a competitor,” Judkins said. “That’s how she plays when things aren’t right.”
Steed made 6 three-pointers in the game. As a team, BYU was 11–24 from beyond the arc. Morgan Bailey made a rare trey to bring BYU within five points of St. Mary’s, but it was not enough. Those three points were Bailey’s only points of the game. Stephanie Seaborn found her stroke, shooting 3–7 from beyond the arc.
Only the two seniors scored in double figures, which is unusual for the well-balanced Cougars. St. Mary’s bench outscored the BYU bench 22–10. The Gaels’ leading scorer was Shannon Mauldin with 12 points from off the bench.
BYU shot 52 percent in the first half but was limited to only 30 percent in the second half. St. Mary’s improved from shooting 35 percent in the first half to 40 percent in the second.
“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time,” Judson said.
St. Mary’s physicality proved too much to handle for BYU. The Gaels grabbed 41 rebounds while the Cougars only had a total of 29. BYU only shot eight free throws and made just three of them. St. Mary’s made 15–21 from the charity stripe.
“I think what got us tonight was just those hustle plays,” Steed said. “Those little things they did better than we did. We gave them way too many second-chance buckets.”
BYU will look to improve from this loss on Thursday as it faces Santa Clara in the Marriott Center.