BYU faces Gonzaga on senior day

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The BYU women’s basketball team hopes to finish their season undefeated at home against West Coast Conference foe Gonzaga on Saturday in the Marriott Center.

“We’ve got a big game on Saturday,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “We’re excited. I’m glad that we got (Portland) out of the way. Now we can focus on the one we really want to focus on.”

Morgan Bailey shoots over Portland on Thursday night. Bailey had 18 points and five rebounds against Gonzaga earlier this season. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

The Cougars (19–7, 10–3) are currently in sole possession of second place in the WCC after St. Mary’s lost to San Diego on Thursday. The Bulldogs (23–5, 13–1) are in first place in the WCC. Their only loss came from playing St. Mary’s on the road.

“We’ve been waiting for this game,” BYU guard Haley Steed said. “At Gonzaga we didn’t play as well as we know we can.”

When these two teams met earlier this season, Gonzaga won 74–59 when BYU visited Spokane, Wash. In that game, the Cougars were led by Steed and Morgan Bailey, who both scored 18 points. The Bulldogs had four players score in double figures while as a team they shot 52.6 percent. This time, Gonzaga is coming to the Marriott Center, where the Cougars are 13–0.

“Hopefully we can come out and play with a passion and execute,” Judkins said. “We didn’t play really well at Gonzaga. We’ve got to come out… and set the tone early.”

The game against Gonzaga is more than a game against the number one team. It is also senior day. The two seniors, Steed and Keilani Unga, will be recognized for their basketball amazing careers at the end of the game.

“They’ve shown a lot of people that you can have tough situations and you can deal with it,” Judkins said. “I think they set a really good example for what BYU basketball is all about. I’m happy for both of them because they could have both walked away from this and not been what they really wanted. Both of them have had great senior years and it’s worth it.”

The other ceremony that will take place during the game is the retiring of Jackie Beene McBride’s jersey at halftime.

“We’re really proud and excited to have (McBride) come and see our team and of course get her number retired,” Judkins said. “Hopefully we can carry that tradition she set. I think it’s nice for my players to honor players that have passed that have really set the foundation… She picked a good game to come and do it at.”

The final home game of the season against BYU and Gonzaga starts at 2 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center. McBride’s jersey will be retired at halftime, and Unga and Steed will be honored at the end of the game.

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