Eaton named tournament MVP as BYU women cruise to WCC Championship title



Lexi Eaton drives the ball in the Cougars' 76-65 championship win over San Francisco. Eaton was named tournament MVP. (twitter)
Lexi Eaton drives the ball in the Cougars’ 76-65 championship win over San Francisco. Eaton was named tournament MVP. (Twitter)

BYU guard Lexi Eaton came through again, scoring 22 points to lead the Cougars as they cruised to a 76-65 win over San Francisco to win the 2015 WCC tournament, capping an improbable tournament run in Las Vegas. Lexi Eaton was named tournament MVP following the win, while Makenzi Morrison and Morgan Bailey joined her on the All-tournament roster.

“With more experience, you learn how to play well in championship games,” Eaton said. “I like to be that player that comes through in big games.”

The Cougars limped into the WCC tournament as the five-seed after losing four of their final five regular-season games. But upset wins over Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals and Gonzaga in the semis gave them a championship matchup with sixth-seeded San Francisco. BYU only trailed for 1:35 of total gameplay, defeating the Dons to become the lowest-seeded team ever to win the WCC Championship title. The win guarantees them an automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

“I have a lot of belief in these girls, and they have a lot of heart,” Bailey said. “It showed this week in Vegas.”

Morrison began the title game by picking up right where she left off against Gonzaga, hitting two 3-pointers in the first five minutes to continue her hot tournament shooting. The Dons’ Taj Wintson responded with six points to trail BYU 16-17 with 11:47 to go in the first half. San Francisco then pulled ahead 20-17, but a quick 3-pointer from Eaton tied it back up 20-20.

Eaton continued to lead the Cougars’ offensive attack, while a Kylie Maeda 3-pointer gave BYU a 33-20 lead with 4:30 until halftime. Winston tried to keep the lead close, but Morrison’s third 3-pointer had BYU leading San Francisco 39-27 at the break.

“We have an inside presence, we have people who can get to the basket, and we have outside shooting,” coach Jeff Judkins said. “(We’re) hard to defend.”

The Dons fought back in the second half behind free-throws and some impressive scores from Winston, but Eaton was able to match San Francisco bucket-for-bucket as the Cougars led by at least nine throughout the entire second half.

Winston led the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stop the scoring trio of Eaton (22 points), Bailey (20 points) and Morrison (19 points).

Eaton averaged 22.7 points scored throughout the tournament and hit the game–winning shot in the quarterfinals against Saint Mary’s.

“(There were) a lot of great moments, but the best moment is holding up that trophy at the end with the team,” Eaton said. “That’s something I’ll never forget.”

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