Paisley Johnson fights for a loose ball against San Francisco at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. Harding and the Cougars advanced to the championship game with a win. (West Coast Conference)

BYU women’s basketball moves on to WCC Championship after dominant 85-55 semifinal win over USF

The BYU women’s basketball team dominated against San Francisco in the semifinal round of the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, winning 85-55.

“All of us came in very focused and knew exactly what we were doing all week,” senior Paisley Harding said after the game. “We just tweaked a few things and coming in, we knew that as long as we shut down on their shooting, we would be able to compete with them.”

Four Cougars finished in double-digit scoring. Harding led with 23 points and seven rebounds, Tegan Graham had 14 points, and Shaylee Gonzales and Lauren Gustin both finished with 10 points. Gustin had a double-double with 10 rebounds.

“They played like a team with tournament experience,” San Francisco head coach Molly Goodenbour said. “They played like a team that expected to be here from the beginning of the season.”

BYU lost to San Francisco on the road in the last game of the regular season on Feb. 25.

Every player on the Cougar roster played in the fourth quarter. Reserves Megan Stevenson, Malli Perri, Tahlia White and Kayla Belles-Lee all scored in the last minutes of the game.

San Francisco started out on fire in the first quarter. Ioanna Krimili made several tough threes for the Dons, including one from the WCC logo, scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone. She finished the game with 21 points.

Graham gave BYU its first lead, 20-19, with a 3-pointer in the second period. The Cougars went on a 12-0 run to end the first half. 

Harding drained a big three to give BYU a 29-22 lead followed by a blocked shot from Hamson.

BYU led 34-22 at halftime 22-34 and held the Dons to just three points in the second quarter on 1-of-19 shooting. BYU outscored San Francisco 19-3 in the second period.

Harding scored a game-high 15 points at the half to help carry the offensive load for BYU.

Threes dropped from Graham, Gonzales, and Harding to start the second half. The Cougars shot 6-of-7 on 3-pointers in the third quarter, and started the fourth quarter with a huge lead, 64-32.

BYU will play for the WCC championship tomorrow, March 9, against Gonzaga. This will be the seventh time in WCC Tournament history the Cougars play for this title. BYU won in 2019.

They will need to beat Gonzaga to get a solid spot in the NCAA Tournament bracket.

Head coach Jeff Judkins said that whether they win or lose in tomorrow’s game, they have worked hard enough to go to the NCAA Tournament.

Judkins said that tomorrow’s game is going to be battle, while Harding said will be a “fun game.”

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