Monday, February 24, 2020

Women’s basketball rebounding after slow season start

The first two months of the the season were tough for the BYU women’s basketball team after a 7-7 start had them reminiscing on the 11-3 start they owned after 14 games in 2018-19. Four games later, the team finds themselves on their longest win streak of the season while sitting four games over .500.

Although the Cougars dropped their season opener 67-50 to Washington State on Nov. 9, they recovered and earned three consecutive wins against Texas A&M Kingsville (90-38), Fresno State (71-65) and Utah State (67-50).

The home game against Utah State was the second-highest attended game in the program’s history. Brenna Chase Drollinger contributed 21 points and Shalae Salmon had 11 rebounds. Sara Hamson also pulled down 11 rebounds and had six blocks.

Following their win against Utah State, the Cougars fell to Utah 77-73 in overtime. Hamson, Paisley Johnson and Babalu Ugwu all scored double digits during the game, but it was not enough to secure a victory. The Utes tied the game with three seconds remaining and then outscored BYU 10-6 in overtime. The Cougars then fell to Arizona State (60-52) and Boise State (66-55) on the road.

On Dec. 14, a home game against UVU earned the Cougars another victory; 11 three-pointers contributed to the final score of 71-57. The Cougars took the lead in the second quarter when Ugwu hit a three-pointer. Drollinger led the team with a total of 19 points in the game.

Prior to conference games, the Cougars traveled to Hawaii for the Maui Jim Maui Classic where they beat San Jose State 75-56 before falling to No. 8 Oregon State 65-34.

BYU began conference play on Dec. 28 with a 59-44 win over Loyola Marymount. Johnson led the Cougars with 19 points, while Hamson added 12 points with 12 rebounds. BYU defeated Pepperdine on Dec. 30.

Following their first two conference wins, the Cougars fell to Gonzaga (55-43) and Portland (57-48).

The Cougars returned to the Marriott Center on Jan. 11 to face San Diego. Before the game, their record was 7-7. The game was a close contest during the first half, but BYU ultimately pulled away with a 52-36 win, bringing their season record to 8-7.

Brenna Chase Drollinger protexts the ball against a Gonzaga defender on Jan. 2. (Hannah Miner)

“In order to turn our season around, because we haven’t been as successful as we wanted to be, we had to get after it,” Drollinger said about the team’s preparation for the game against San Diego. “We put our heads down and put the work in and that’s what lead to this victory today.”

Johnson leads the Cougars in points scored this season, with an average of 14.5 points per game as of Jan. 24. Hamson has made 81 blocks, while Drollinger leads in steals with 38.

“We’ve got to get Paisley (Johnson) to slow down and not turn the ball over so much, and same with Brenna (Drollinger),” said Coach Jeff Judkins after BYU’s win over San Diego. “We’ve got to continue to get Sara (Hamson) to get in better shape to play in longer spurts. And we gotta have a bench like we did tonight.”

Production has dropped during the 2019-20 season as compared to the 2018-19 season, with BYU’s top three scorers averaging 11.0 points per game this season in comparison to the 14.8 points per game averaged by its top three scorers last year.

The Cougars are shooting 32.9% from three-point land this year while going 38.7% overall from the field. This number is down substantially from last season as the team shot 34.5% from behind the three-point line and 42.8% overall, but has been increasing over the four-game win streak.

 

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