Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
BYU women’s basketball celebrates with the championship banner and trophy following their 2019 WCC Championship victory over No. 13 Gonzaga. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU women’s basketball is heading into the upcoming season without last year’s top scorer Shaylee Gonzales. The guard suffered a season-ending knee injury in July and will be redshirting the 2019-20 season. Last year, Gonzales was ranked No. 2 nationally for points per game as a freshman, averaging 17. 

Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Shaylee Gonzales poses for a picture before taking the court against Pepperdine in the WCC semifinal. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

This season, Gonzales is expected to be replaced by Maria Albiero, a junior from Londrina, Brazil. Albiero and the rest of the team have been preparing throughout the off-season for another year of competitive play. 

“At the end of the day, it’s all about making the team better. I am here with that in mind and preparing every day for my team,” Albiero said. 

As the Cougars only lost one senior, Caitlyn Alldredge, from the 2018-19 season, the team’s leadership looks similar to last season. Players note that consistent leadership has helped the team progress together. 

“Caitlyn was such a good leader for us and such a powerful senior,” returning guard Paisley Johnson said. “We still have great upperclassmen that have continued that tradition onto this year.” 

The BYU Cougars have set team goals for this upcoming season, including bringing home another WCC championship. The team snatched its third tournament title since joining the WCC by defeating Gonzaga 82-68 in the championship game last season. As a result, BYU received the WCC’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. 

During the NCAA tournament, the Cougars defeated The University of Auburn in the first round, but their celebration was short-lived as BYU’s season ended when they lost to Stanford 72-63 in the second round. This year, the team hopes to make it back to the NCAA tournament and even host games at the Marriott Center.

Johnson was named MVP of the 2019 WCC tournament. She was put on WCC Second Team before the tournament, but following the tournament believed she deserved to be put on the WCC First Team. 

“I remember telling Judi (head coach Jeff Judkins) that they better watch out because I’m going to be MVP of the tournament,” Johnson said.

Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Paisley Johnson surveys the court during the second half of BYU’s win over Pepperdine. Johnson totalled a game-high 20 points in the Cougars’ semifinal win. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

The returning Washington native believes that those feelings have carried over, and she expects bigger and better things for herself. Johnson isn’t the only player hoping to make major improvements this year. The entire team has spent months preparing for their upcoming season.

Senior Jasmine Moody brings the most playing experience to the team with 97 games. She claims that off-season preparations will help BYU stand out throughout the season.

“With a lot of injuries over the summer, our team has really come together,” Moody said. “We have stuck with each other as we build each other’s confidence and support one another to really prepare.”

The Cougars begin the 2019-20 season with a game against Westminster College on Oct. 29 at home in the Marriot Center.

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