2013–2014 has proven itself to be a season of “bests” for the BYU women’s basketball team. Not only did individual players demonstrate huge personal improvements, but the team really pulled together and made it one of its best seasons yet.
Throughout the year the Cougars continued to surprise fans as they grew and succeeded. They made it further in the NCAA tournament than anyone anticipated, broke multiple school records and sent three players on to the All-WCC team and one to the all-American team.
Here’s a few highlights from this season:
1. The Cougars won 28 games in total, the most wins in head coach Jeff Judkins’ coaching career, as well as in the history of BYU women’s basketball. BYU only suffered seven losses this season, taking them all the way to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time in Judkins’ career.
“It’s hard in a small conference to get an at-large bid,” Judkins said. “You can’t have ups and downs; you have to be steady, and that’s what this team’s done the whole season.”
2. For the second time in BYU history, the women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Its upset over Nebraska made the Cougars the third 12 seed ever to advance this far in the NCAA tournament.
“I’m proud of these girls,” Judkins said. “We played some of our best basketball. I’m really proud of this team and its effort.”
3. Senior Jennifer Hamson led the entire nation in blocked shots. Her 340 career blocked shots are second only to her mother who currently holds the record. Hamson made the All-WCC team as well as the all-American honorable mention team and was the first WCC player to be named Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year simultaneously.
“The way (Hamson) dominates the game both inside defensively and offensively is hard to replace,” Judkins said. “You’re lucky to have a player like Jen maybe once every ten years.”
4. Hamson also entered the 1,000 point club along with senior Kim Beeston, the first time since 2011 that BYU has had two players reach the 1,000-point club in the same season.
5. Beeston set a few records of her own; her 27 points and nine tries against LMU on Feb. 22 tied BYU’s single game record in 3-pointers made. The original record was set by All-American Erin Thorn on Dec. 14, 2001.
“This has definitely been one of my favorite teams I’ve been on,” Beeston said. “I have just loved this year.”
The Cougars ended their season on March 29 with a loss against No. 1 Connecticut in the third round of the NCAA championship. The women’s team went above and beyond everyone’s expectations, handing the Huskies their largest deficit of the season with a six-point lead in the first half. Without Hamson and Beeston next year it’s hard to say if the Cougars will have the same success, but with sophomore Lexi Eaton and junior Morgan Bailey returning, they might just have a chance.