The BYU women’s basketball team, led by Makenzi Morrison Pulsipher and Kalani Purcell, trampled the Santa Clara Broncos 70-63 on Saturday afternoon. The Cougars extended their winning steak to 14 games and remain in first place in the West Coast Conference.
Pulsipher led the Cougars in scoring with 25 points while Purcell grabbed 20 rebounds and added 17 points. Lexi Eaton Rydalch finished with 12 points. This is the fourteenth game this season the Cougars have had three players with double-digit scoring.
Head coach Jeff Judkins attributed the win to his team’s preparation and effort on the court, despite the Broncos’ tough defense.
“They are very aggressive in that zone and very physical. We knew it would be that way,” Judkins said. “I’m happy. This was a big game. We didn’t play our best this weekend, but we played good in spurts and that’s what this team has been doing all year.”
Rydalch opened the first quarter with a 3-pointer, but BYU struggled to keep a lead. The Cougars’ offensive threat lacked as the Broncos forced a total of eight turnovers. Both teams were cold from the field and scrambled for points as they made less than a third of their shots.
The Cougars entered the second quarter ahead 12-10 and fought to maintain their slim advantage. Pulsipher sparked BYU’s offensive rhythm with three consecutive baskets to create a seven-point lead. With a pair of free throws by Rydalch, the Cougars held on to a 31-27 lead at halftime.
“The pressure was on that we needed to make our shots. It just comes down to the basics, making the easy stuff.” Pulsipher said. “We played smarter and we packed it in on the inside.”
With six and a half minutes to go in the third quarter, Purcell sank a jump shot to record her fourteenth double-double of the season. Purcell already had 10 rebounds going into the second quarter and fired the Cougars’ defense throughout the rest of the game.
“I thought Kalani had an outstanding game,” Judkins said. “Not just scoring but rebounding. She’s the best rebounder in the league and she proved it tonight and really played a great all around game for us.”
Rydalch banked a wide open 3-pointer to extend the Cougars’ advantage to 11 points with a minute to go in the third quarter. BYU advanced to the final quarter with a 47-39 lead.
The Cougars continued to turn up their offensive effort and led by as many 14 points during the fourth quarter. Santa Clara answered with aggressive defense. The Broncos had four players finish the game with four fouls.
BYU took advantage of the free-throw shots and defeated the Santa Clara by seven.
“One game closer to winning a championship and that’s what we’re after. We just got to keep going,” Purcell said.
The Cougars ended the Broncos’ seven-game winning streak and Santa Clara has yet to win a game in Provo.
BYU improves to 14-1 in conference. The Cougars play their final conference home game on Thursday against San Diego who is currently second place in the WCC with an 11-3 conference record.