The BYU women’s basketball team beat the Utah state Aggies 81-69 in a very physical game Tuesday morning at the Marriott Center.
The Cougars came out hot and ready to fire in the first half. They shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and forced 13 Utah State turnovers. The Cougars have averaged 60 points per game this season and scored 50 points in the first half alone against the Aggies.
“I think that we are finally starting to click together as a team and not only does it help the team, but it helps me personally. I’m just happy,” Junior forward Kalani Purcell said.
The Aggies shot 48 percent from the field in the first half, but it was all they could do to keep up after their star player Funda Nakkasoglu went down in the first quarter with a bad cut above her eye. Nakkasoglu, who scored 39 points for the Aggies in their last game against Pacific, was out for the last three quarters of this game and her teammate and fellow Australian Rachel Brewster stepped up and led the Aggies with 17 points.
Lexi Eaton Rydalch was the leading scorer for the Cougars once again. She scored 20 points in the first half of the game and eight points in the second half for a total of 28 points and four three-pointers for the game. The BYU women’s record for most rebounds in a game is 28 and Kalani Purcell approached that today with 21 rebounds and also put 14 points on the board for the Cougars.
“I think Lexi’s playing a great game,” head coach Jeff Judkins said at half-time. “She’s letting it come and hitting her open shots and she’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
BYU guard Kylie Maeda broke her personal scoring record for this season and put up seven points against the Aggies. Maeda also led the Cougars in assists with seven, but Purcell was not far behind with six assists for her team. Makenzie Morrison Pulsipher has been a consistent contributor to this BYU women’s basketball team and has consisitently averaged double-digit points per game this season.
This in-state rivalry game was very physical and there was lots of blood on the court today with Rydalch and Brewster sustaining injuries along with Nakkasoglu. Rydalch came off bleeding with a cut on her collarbone but was soon back in the game. The Aggies leading scorer Brewster came out in the crucial last minutes of the fourth quarter with a cut right on top of her nose. Both teams also had their fair share of fouls, the Aggies with 19 and BYU with 20.
“It was a physical game on both ends,” Purcell said. “We were physical with them and they were physical with us, so I mean yep, it was pretty physical down there.”
The Cougars will travel to California next to play in the Radisson Chatsworth Thanksgiving classic on Friday and Saturday. They will take on Georgia at 6 p.m. on Friday and the game can be heard on BYU radio.