Strong second half leads BYU Women’s Basketball to 84-74 road win over SUU

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Strong second half leads BYU Women’s Basketball to 84-74 road win over SUU

BYU Women’s Basketball found its offensive rhythm in the second half to secure an 84-74 win over Southern Utah University in Cedar City on Friday.

The game was announced Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours before tip-off, in an effort to replace a canceled game against Boise State for the Cougars. BYU scored just 35 points in the first half, but got on a roll after halftime with 49 points in the final two quarters.

Sophomore star Shaylee Gonzales led the way with 26 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Lauren Gustin put up a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Paisley Harding helped the duo with 15 points and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.

The Cougars went with a familiar starting five against SUU, featuring Gonzales, Maria Albiero, Harding, Gustin and Sara Hamson. Gustin maintained her strong play in the paint for BYU, putting up eight points and five rebounds in the first quarter to put the Cougars up 20-17 after one period.

The T-Birds kept things close in the second quarter, tying the game at 28-28 with 4:10 to go before halftime. Turnovers plagued the Cougars in the second period and BYU struggled to get in rhythm from behind the 3-point arc, allowing SUU to take a 39-35 lead into the half.

Kaylee Smiler hit a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, but prior to that the Cougars were 2-for-12 from deep. The T-Birds took eight more free throws than the Cougars in the opening half, outscoring BYU 11-4 from the charity stripe in the first two quarters.

SUU flirted with a double-digit lead early in the third quarter, but a 7-0 run for BYU midway through the period helped the Cougars bring it within one, 49-48. Gustin and Gonzales reached double digits in the third quarter for BYU with 12 points each.

The Cougars took their first lead of the second half, 54-52, on an and-one from Harding with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. BYU put together a 19-3 run, including 12 unanswered at one point, to take a 60-52 lead into the final period.

Gonzales reach 20 points for BYU early in the fourth quarter, extending the Cougars’ lead to double digits, 64-52. Gustin got her third double-double at BYU in the fourth quarter with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Former Cougar Liz Graves had 34 points in the game and brought the T-Birds back within single digits in the final minutes, but BYU made its free throws to secure the win. Harding reached double figures in the final period with 15 points.

The Cougars return to Provo next to play Utah Valley on Dec. 23 in a game that was originally scheduled for Dec. 15, but was postponed due to COVID protocols.

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