LAS VEGAS — Lexi Eaton hit the game-winning shot with one second left to give the Cougars an exciting 65-64 win against Saint Mary’s College Thursday night.
Eaton led all scorers with 30 points on 11-for-16 shooting and a perfect 8-for-8 mark from the free throw line.
“It was a tough battle, and they are a hard team to play,” Cougars head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We changed a lot of things tonight and ran a lot of different defenses.”
BYU fell behind at the start of the game and trailed 9-4. Cassie Broadhead helped the Cougar cause with a 3-pointer, and another three from Xoijan Harry shortly after put BYU in the lead, 11-9.
The Cougars were able to widen that gap, leading by six after a three-point shot from Kylie Maeda. The Gaels caught up and pulled ahead until a layup from freshman Savannah Irwin tied the game 22-22. Saint Mary’s took the lead again, but a crossover layup from Eaton cut the deficit to 27-26 with a minute left in the half.
BYU improved play in the second half with 17 rebounds and 92 percent shooting from the free throw line. Eaton took BYU’s first points of the second half at the free throw line, making the score 33-30 Saint Mary’s.
The Cougars took their first lead of the half 41-39 after a rebound from Morgan Bailey led to a basket from Kristine Fuller. Later on, a BYU turnover allowed for Saint Mary’s to take the ball in for a layup to take a 51-46 lead.
The lead jumped back and forth in the last few minutes of the game, keeping Cougar fans on their feet. Eaton took an offensive rebound and tipped the ball into a 59-58 lead with two-and-a-half minutes left.
The last seconds turned into a moment basketball fans dream of as Eaton made a layup with fewer than two seconds left to win the game, 65-64.
“The play was meant for another player, but it didn’t work out, and I knew I needed to make myself available,” Eaton said. “I looked for an opening, let it fly, and it was good.”