Sara Hamson walks up the court against Pepperdine at the Marriott Center. Hamson had three blocks on the road against Santa Clara. (Preston Crawley)

BYU women’s basketball win streak ends in 86-72 loss at USF to close regular season

The BYU women’s basketball team was on the road this week, winning in comeback fashion against Santa Clara on Thursday and losing the last regular season game against San Francisco 72-86 on Saturday, ending the Cougars win streak at eight games.

“Hopefully we can regroup and learn from this,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We didn’t do as well as we could have at guarding the 3-point line or cutting off their drives to the basket.”

BYU won 66-63 against the Santa Clara Broncos on Thursday in a dogfight game. The Cougars were down 18 points but came back in the second half to take their first lead of the night with 8:30 left of the game.

“I have to give our girls a lot of credit,” Judkins said after the Santa Clara game. “When we were down 14 at halftime, I told them we couldn’t come back with just one shot. We had to do a little bit at a time and inch our way back. We just had a great effort from everyone tonight.”

Sara Hamson made the bucket for the Cougars to take the lead at 53-51. Lauren Gustin and Shaylee Gonzales made layups and gave BYU an 11-0 run to make it 59-54.

Gonzales had a team-high 20 points and Gustin finished with her 13th double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds.  Paisley Harding also finished with her second double–double of her career with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists. BYU had seven blocked shots as a team, with Hamson getting three and Gustin two.

Tegan Graham knocked down three triples and a pair of free throws off the bench, scoring 11 points to go along with three assists and two blocks.

The Broncos made five-straight points to make it 61-59. Harding committed a foul during a dead ball with eight seconds on the clock and Santa Clara made one of two free throws and it was 66-63 BYU.

The Cougars dominated the paint, scoring 30 points around the basket to the Broncos’ 14, and had 18 points off of turnovers compared to their nine.

BYU ran out of gas in the second leg of the road trip, losing by 14 points to the USF Dons.

“We weren’t quite as mentally prepared as we needed to be,” Judkins said. “But we’re looking forward to resting up next week and preparing for the (West Coast Conference) tournament.”

Gonzales had 25 points and eight rebounds in the game, Harding had 17 points, and Albiero finished with a career-high of 14 points, five assists, two rebounds and one steal. Gustin finished with 13 rebounds.

San Francisco’s Ioanna Krimili added 27 points to the game and Amalia Langer and Lucie Hoskova finished with 16 points each.

The Cougars were up in the first quarter, but San Francisco led at half time 39-28. Gonzales had 11 points and Maria Albiero had seven points at the end of the half.  BYU scored the last four shots of the second quarter.

The Cougars were down 58-50 in the fourth quarter as they attempted a comeback. Harding went to the line made a pair of free throws. Gonzales had eight points in the final period and Harding had 10 points to close out the game.

Gonzales hit a second-chance 3-pointer with two minutes to go. Albiero and Kayla Beckman finished the game with buckets, but it wasn’t enough to compete the comeback.

BYU finishes the 2020-21 regular season 17-4 overall and 13-3 in conference play, second only to Gonzaga. The WCC Tournament begins on March 4 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

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