BYU women’s basketball beats Gonzaga in fifth-straight win

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Elliott Miller
Cassie Broadhead dribbles past a Portland player in a game last season. Broadhead’s last minute free throws were key to BYU’s win against Gonzaga on Thursday night. (Elliot Miller)

The BYU women’s basketball team surged past Gonzaga 58-54 in a fourth quarter comeback Thursday night.

The Cougars’ hard-fought and fifth-straight win was a result of a team effort.

“This was one of the best wins I’ve had in a long time,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said, “Not because we beat Gonzaga or we won a game. It’s being down seven points with three something left in the game and not giving up. I think that shows a lot of character of my team and what they really believe in.”

The Cougars struggled against Gonzaga’s consistent play early on. BYU was down 15-12 at the end of the first quarter and the Bulldogs entered halftime with a 28-20 lead. The Cougars trailed by seven points going into the fourth quarter.

The Cougars’ energy picked up in the last four minutes of the game. Lexi Eaton Rydalch netted a 3-pointer, and followed it with a layup that brought BYU within two points, 50-48, with 3:20 on the clock.

BYU pushed for a strong final two minutes. A layup by Amanda Wayment brought the score to 51-50.

Kalani Purcell hit a shot that put the Cougars ahead 52-51 with 1:17 left in the game. Cassie Broadhead contributed with a series of free throws in the last few seconds, capping off the victory.

“We didn’t panic at all. We knew we had it,” Broadhead said.  “At the end of the day, it’s all a team. We know everybody can step up in the end.”

Kalani Purcell, recently honored as the WCC Player of the Week, continued her strong play. Purcell had all of the team’s six rebounds at halftime. Purcell continued her aggressive play and collected a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds. It was her seventh double-double of the season.

“We are really good at not freaking out,” Kalani said of the intense fourth-quarter play. “We are really good at just keeping calm and just playing our game.”

The Cougars made 82 percent of their free throws, compared to the Bulldogs who only made 43 percent. BYU also shot 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range.

BYU faces another conference match-up against Portland at the Marriott Center Saturday, Jan. 16.

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