BYU women’s basketball defeated Pepperdine 77-66 for the Cougars’ tenth consecutive win and to finish out a California road trip.
Lexi Eaton Rydalch, who became the WCC’s leading scorer this week, tied her career-high 37 points. Twenty-seven of those points came in the second half.
“I found the gaps in the second half in this game,” Rydalch told BYUradio. “I was trying to be creative. Pepperdine plays tough so you have to be creative on them.”
Pepperdine and BYU played an aggressive first quarter. Each team committed two personal fouls less than a minute into the game. The Waves went 8-for-8 with free throws and had a 4-0 advantage in second chance points. The Cougars’ struggled defensively and trailed 19-13 at the close of the first quarter.
The Cougars brought renewed energy to the second quarter with a quick Cassie Broadhead jump shot that brought BYU within four. Rydalch banked a 3-pointer with 6:20 left. BYU then put Pepperdine into a four minute scoring drought that pushed the lead to 28-21. The Waves’ offense answered with a 13-1 run during the last four minutes of the first half and were up 34-29 at halftime.
“It says we’re not ready to go to start the game,” Rydlach said about the halftime deficit. “We need to understand that we have to bring more energy in the second game of the week. They played Kalani and I tough in the first half and that’s why our team was struggling to score. We made adjustments at halftime and decided to be more aggressive, more energetic, stay together and I think that was the big difference.”
The third quarter opened with back-to-back jumpers by Rydalch and Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher. Rydalch, who has never scored less than 15 points this season, continued to turn up the intensity with a layup to regain the lead at 37-36 with 6:40 left. Rydalch hit the Cougars’ last two baskets of the quarter and BYU ended ahead 51-48.
Rydalch continued to propel BYU’s offense with seven points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. This was the third game this season BYU has come back after trailing at halftime.
Purcell, who pulled down 24 rebounds against Pepperdine last week, had just three rebounds during the first half. She came out stronger in the second half and earned her twelfth double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
“We played tentatively early on, but became more comfortable as the game went on,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I challenged Kalani to be more aggressive at halftime and she ended up with a double-double. Lexi as well had another phenomenal game. Both of these road wins were huge for us.”
BYU improves to 10-1 in conference and continues on the road for conference games at Pacific and Saint Mary’s next week.