The No. 7 seeded BYU women’s basketball team defeated the No. 10 seeded Auburn Tigers 73-64 in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament on March. 23 in Stanford, California.
Despite shooting just 26 percent from the 3-point line, turning the ball over 16 times and allowing Auburn to snatch up 21 offensive rebounds, a 45-point second half propelled the Cougars to victory.
“Once we were able to pull ahead, we had more confidence that we were going to be able to pull this one through,” BYU guard Paisley Johnson said. “That was a big turning point. We’re able to connect really well on our fast-break lay-ins and make those, even with a whole bunch of contact.”
The Cougars played solid defense, holding the Tigers to 32 percent shooting from the field with seven blocks, four coming from center Sara Hamson in her fifth straight game with at least four blocks.
“Sometimes they got around (the zone), but then Sara (Hamson), at 6’7″, was there with her long wingspan to contest those shots,” Johnson said. “If she didn’t block them, she definitely disrupted their play.”
BYU’s guards carried the offense. Brenna Chase enjoyed a career high of 19 points, seven assists and three blocks. The victory was her 22nd straight game with a 3-pointer.
BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said Chase had a good game and was able to steady her nerves under pressure.
“The last three games Brenna has played really good for us,” Judkins said. “Tonight was not Paisley’s night, but Brenna and Caitlyn (Alldredge) stepped it up and that’s why this team has been so successful.”
Shaylee Gonzales scored 17 points with nine rebounds while Alldredge added a career-high 14 points, shooting 60 percent on the night. Johnson added 8 points and three boards.
Auburn stepped on the gas pedal and gave BYU a scare in the final quarter. The Cougars were leading by 15 with 8:24 to play, but an 11-1 run brought the Tigers within 4 points with just two minutes remaining. However, a pair of free throws by Chase followed by a Gonzales layup sealed BYU’s win.
“We executed 100 percent, and we ran plays that we threw up and executed, and we started pushing in the press and finding the gaps,” Alldredge said. “Being the big that has to take it out a lot, I don’t get that opportunity (to score), but when they were missing their boards and we were able to run I was able to be up there and be like a guard again and get some of those layups.”
The Cougars move on to the round of 32 to play No. 2 seeded Stanford March 25 at 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time for a chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
An updated story will be posted on The Daily Universe website on March 26 after the game has concluded.