Paisley Harding takes a shot against Pepperdine in the Marriott Center. Harding had a season-high 28 points on the road against Saint Mary's on Saturday. (Preston Crawley)

BYU women’s basketball pulls away late to win 79-61 at Saint Mary’s

The BYU women’s basketball team won its fifth consecutive game in a fast-paced shootout on the road against Saint Mary’s.

BYU shot 49% from the field and was 100% from the free-throw line, while the Gaels shot just 37% from the field and 64% from the charity stripe.

Paisley Harding had a season-high 28 points, while Shaylee Gonzales and Lauren Gustin both finished with 16 points, with Gustin adding 12 rebounds. Sara Hamson had eight points and Tegan Graham had seven points.

Taycee Wedin on Saint Mary’s had 17 points, Hannah Rapp had 11 points and Brianna Simonich had 10 points and eight rebounds.

In the first quarter, BYU led 10-3, but then the Gaels came back, ending the quarter down 21-18. Harding had nine points in the first quarter.

Hamson made a hook shot to start the second quarter, followed by a Gonzales spinning layup on a fast break. Saint Mary’s took a time out 1:30 into the second quarter, down 27-20. BYU soon led by 12, 32-20.

Saint Mary’s did a good job attacking BYU’s defense and scored back-to-back baskets to make it 34-28. The Gaels score eight-straight points in the second quarter, while BYU had seven turnovers.

BYU head coach Jeff Judkins got a technical foul as the BYU lead was narrowed to just four points, 34-30.

Saint Mary’s tied the game at 34 by making a pair of free throws as part of a 12-0 run against the Cougars.

The game was close at the half, with BYU hanging onto a 38-37 lead. Harding had 13 points, but also three fouls. Gustin had eight points and four rebounds and Gonzales had 10 points.

The teams went back and forth with scoring to start the second half.

The Gaels led for the first time 40-38 after sinking a three, but Gonzales tied it back up at 40.

Saint Mary’s answered with another 3-pointer to make it 43-41, but BYU went on a quick run with Gonzales making a three, and Hamson and Harding also scoring to make it 49-45 BYU.

Harding had back-to-back threes as part of a crucial 10 points in the third quarter, and Gonzales added eight.

BYU outscored Saint Mary’s 28-16 in the third quarter.

The Gaels scored just eight points in the fourth quarter and Harding sealed it with a 3-pointer to cap off her best scoring performance of the season.

BYU’s next game is at the Marriott Center against Gonzaga on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. MST.

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