BYU women’s basketball falls to No. 19 Gonzaga on the road

The BYU women’s basketball team came up short against No. 19 Gonzaga in Spokane on Tuesday, despite a spirited rally in the fourth quarter to tie the game in the final minutes.

“I’m real proud of our team,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We just had a few lapses; one was that we got into foul trouble in the first half. They hit some shots and we kind of scrambled. We fought back in the second half and I thought our girls showed a lot of character and a lot of heart.”

The big scorers for BYU were Paisley Harding with 17 points and Shaylee Gonzales with 12, while Gonzaga’s Jill Townsend, the 2020 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, had 18.

Gonzaga led 44-34 going into the fourth quarter, but a quick pair of 3-pointers from Harding and Tegan Graham brought BYU within six, 46-40. 

With 2:54 left in the game, Gonzaga’s Cierra Walker received a technical foul when she pushed Graham as she was running down the court and Harding made one of two free throws.

Graham then hit another three to make it 50-45, followed by crucial layups from Harding and Lauren Gustin, and then a three from Gonzales. The Cougars tied the game at 54 with 1:54 left in the game, coming back from a 14-point deficit.

Walker answered immediately with back-to-back threes for the Bulldogs, however, and the Cougars were unable to close the gap in the final minute.

The Cougars finished with 20 personal fouls to Gonzaga’s 13 in what was a physical matchup from the start. 

“I don’t know if you ever feel good going up against BYU,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said.

Forter said they were trying to make it hard on Gonzales, the leading scorer in the WCC at 20.3 points per game, and their strategy was to limit her number of easy shots.

The Cougars kept it close in the first quarter, going into the second period down 14-13, but Gonzaga pulled away and led 34-22 at halftime. BYU outscored Gonzaga 34-29 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.

Gonzaga is now 11-0 in conference play and BYU is 5-2. The Cougars look to keep their undefeated home record intact when they take on Pepperdine on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. in the Marriott Center.

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