BYU women trump Portland in fourth straight win

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Jennifer Hamson led the BYU women’s basketball team to a big win over Portland in West Coast Conference action at the Marriott Center Thursday night.

Hamson continued her streak of dominating play, recording her fifth straight double-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.

Jennifer Hamson drives to the basket against Portland during Thursday night's game in the Marriott Center. Photo by Sarah Hill.
Jennifer Hamson drives to the basket against Portland during Thursday night’s game in the Marriott Center. Photo by Sarah Hill.

“To me, the difference tonight was Jen (Hamson). I think she scored when we needed to get a basket, and defensively she did a great job,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “When you have a player like [Hamson] who can score, it really makes a big difference. Both her and Lexi (Eaton) really stepped it up; that’s three or four games now that they’ve really looked to score for us.”

Eaton finished the night with 22 points, as well as five rebounds and three assists.

The Cougars (20-5, 10-4) got off to a slow start offensively, shooting just 29 percent from the field in the first half, and not making a single 3-pointer.

“Shots weren’t falling for us early in the game, but it’s important to remember that it’s a long game,” Eaton said. “Once one person hits a shot, the basket opens up and it becomes contagious. We just stayed positive with each other and the shots started falling.”

A strong defensive effort kept the Cougars in the game despite the Pilots (14-11, 7-7) hitting four of nine 3-point shots in the first half. BYU dominated the boards, grabbing 48 to Portland’s 37. Junior Morgan Bailey came back from an injury that caused her a two-game absence to pull down 10 rebounds, and fellow Junior Ashley Garfield grabbed seven.

“It was good to see (Morgan) Bailey back, getting 10 rebounds tonight,” Judkins said. “She comes in and brings a lot of toughness in the post. Ashley was also really active tonight. I’d like to get her some more shots, but she did really well. She got some monster rebounds for us– she would come up with the offensive rebounds to get us another possession.”

After leading just 26-23 at halftime, BYU’s offense started to click in the second half. A three-point play by Lexi Eaton, two straight Kylie Maeda layups and a Hamson bucket sparked a run that put the Cougars up by 10, 37-27, with 15 minutes left to play.

BYU rode that wave of momentum throughout the second half, cruising to the 24-point win as the game ended 67-43.

The victory marked BYU coach Jeff Judkins’ eighth season recording 20 or more wins.

The Cougars remain in second place in WCC standings, behind the No. 15 Gonzaga Bulldogs. BYU will face Gonzaga this Saturday, February 15 at 2:00 p.m. MST.

“We’ve got to have a flawless game against Gonzaga, offensively and defensively,” Judkins said. “Hopefully we get a good crowd here, where we can really come in and play our best.”

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