Senior Lexi Eaton led the Cougars to their first win in the NCAA Tournament against NC State with a final score of 72-57.
“First of all I want to congratulate NC State on a great season,” said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. “They are a very good team, very classy and are well coached. I was very impressed with them. I’m proud of these young girls. They played together, and this is how they’ve been playing all year.”
Eaton led BYU with 25 points and eight rebounds. She also tied the game high with four assists. Senior Jennifer Hamson matched her career highs in both blocks and rebounds, with nine and 19 respectively, as well as 12 points for a near-triple double.
Sophomore Kylie Maeda matched her career high as well, adding 14 points to the final score. Junior Morgan Bailey added a double-double of her own with 13 points and 12 boards.
Overall, the Cougars out-shot the Wolfpack 45 to 27 percent and out-rebounded 52-37. BYU also reached a season high of team blocks, blocking 15 shots in the game.
The Wolfpacks scored the first basket of the game, but BYU didn’t wait to start racking up the points. Seven straight points led the Cougars to an early five-point lead.
NC State held its own throughout the first half, but with three different Cougars scoring three-point shots, they had no chance. The Cougars maintained a five-point lead with only 12 minutes left in the first half.
Wolfpack’s Krystal Barrett scored a three-point basket, bringing NC State to its first lead of the game, quickly countered by Eaton with a jumper of her own, bringing the game to a tie 24-24.
BYU ended the first half on a 9-1 run, bringing them up to a seven-point lead at 33-26.
After a 16-5 run in the second half, BYU maintained a double-digit lead throughout up until 10 minutes left in the game at 54-38. NC State went on a run collecting 21 points, pushing BYU’s lead back to 13 points.
Maeda’s drive to the basket with the shot clock expiring was the final score for the Cougars, sending them off the court with a 72-57 victory.
This marks the first time BYU has won an NCAA Tournament game since 2005. This win also marks BYU’s 27th win of the season, the most wins of Judkins’ BYU coaching career.
“We had a great team effort,” Judkins said. “They all stepped up and did something that contributed to this win. We’re happy.”
BYU will play at the Pauley Pavillion on Monday, March 24, at 6 p.m. (PDT), facing No. 4 seed Nebraska in the second game of the NCAA Tournament.