BYU women’s basketball prepares for upcoming season

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The BYU women’s basketball team is ready to defeat opponents, win conference championships and pave its way back to a third-straight NCAA tournament appearance.

“We have a lot of depth,” head coach Jeff Judkins said at a recent media day. “We have a lot of quickness. We have some girls that can shoot.”

The Cougars have three returning starters, eight letterwinners, five freshmen, one player returning from an LDS mission and one transfer student.

Returning seniors Lexi Eaton-Rydalch, Kylie Maeda and Makenzi Morrison-Pulsipher are all vital assets to the team this year.

Sarah Hill
Lexi Eaton-Rydalch goes for a layup against Gonzaga in the Marriott Center. Eaton will return for her final season at BYU. (Sarah Hill)

Eaton-Rydalch, the 2015 WCC tournaments Most Outstanding Player, led the team in scoring with 20.5 points per game and was third in rebounding with 6.5 per game in 2014-15. Maeda returns after leading the team in assists and averaging 6.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last year as the team’s starting point guard. Junior shooting guard Morrison-Pulsipher finished last year tops in 3-point field goal percentage at 41 percent while averaging 9.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

“We have a tough team, some good shooters and we’re moving really smart,” Eaton-Rydalch said. “I feel like we’re pretty ahead of the game right now.”

Returning letterwinners included Eaton-Rydalch, Maeda, Morrison-Pulsipher, Kristine Fuller-Nielson, Micaelee Orton, Alohi Robins-Hardy, Cassie Broadhead and Amanda Wayment.

Brooke Romney is returning after serving a mission in Concepcion, Chile.

“In the beginning, the conditioning was a little hard,” Romney said. “But honestly, I feel like I have a lot better vision now that I’m back. Just a lot more maturity on the court. I feel like I’ve been playing a lot better than I did before, which doesn’t make sense because I’ve been gone for two years.”

New Zealand native Kalani Purcell is a transfer student coming from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Purcell played on the New Zealand national team for several years prior to joining the BYU women’s basketball team.

Cougar fans can expect an exciting journey for the women’s basketball team this season.

BYU will face many challenging opponents, but here are a few of the key games on the schedule.

Oklahoma – Nov. 19 @ Oklahoma

The Cougars will face the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners are currently ranked No. 18 according to NCAA DI Women’s College Basketball. They finished last year’s season with a 21-12 record and 210 points. BYU has a 2-3 playing record against Oklahoma.

Utah State University – Nov. 24 @ Marriott Center

BYU will face USU the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break in the Marriott Center. The Cougars have a 33-3 record playing against the Aggies. The Cougars beat the Aggies 62-58 (2OT) the last time the teams played each other in December 2014.

University of Utah – Dec. 12 @ Marriott Center

The Cougars have a 40-64 record playing against the Utes. BYU upset the U of U on their own court last season by winning 60-56.

Gonzaga – Jan. 14, 2016 @ Marriott Center & Feb. 27, 2016 @ Gonzaga

BYU will play the Gonzaga Bulldogs twice this season. BYU holds a 7-11 record playing against the Zags, however last season BYU shocked basketball fans when they beat the then No. 1 seed Gonzaga team 61-55 in the WCC Basketball Championship.

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