Tegan Graham looks to pass around a defender on Tuesday at the Marriott Center. Graham led BYU in points with 18. (Dallin Wilks)

BYU women’s basketball gets 81-58 win over Lipscomb in season opener

By Preston Lewis

BYU women’s basketball opened the 2021-22 season with an 81-58 win over the visiting Lipscomb Bison on Tuesday in the Marriott Center.

BYU is coming into the season with a roster full of chemistry from last year. It took a little bit of time in the game to mesh, however, as the Cougars started the contest down 9-0 due to three quick 3-pointers from Lipscomb guard Blythe Pearson who finished with a game-high 19 points by way of a 5-of-9 shooting night from deep.

Following a time out, the Cougars went on a tear, finishing the quarter on a 20-4 run and forcing eight turnovers along the way to go into the first quarter break up 22-13.

“To go down nine and come back, it was a good learning curve for us,” head coach Jeff Judkins said after the game.

“We have such a veteran team,” graduate guard Tegan Graham said. “We trust each other, we trust our coaches…we don’t put our heads down when we get down.”

Lauren Gustin looks up to the basket against Lipscomb at the Marriott Center on Tuesday. (Dallin Wilks)

Lipscomb wouldn’t go away easily, however. They came into the second quarter with much more aggression, making it hard on the Cougars to score easy buckets in the paint.

BYU matched the intensity. The defense was obviously a huge point of emphasis for Judkins, who got on his players all half, leading them to a 41-27 lead going into intermission.

The squad came into the second half firing on all cylinders. The formula for success was simple: get the ball down low to either Lauren Gustin or Sara Hamson. Gustin finished the game with a thundering 13 rebounds to go along with 13 points.

When the post entry pass or shot attempt wasn’t there, it usually meant somebody was open for a three. Shaylee Gonzales, Paisley Harding and Tegan Graham were all scorching hot from the perimeter. The balanced attack of 3-point shooting and low post scoring was on display all quarter, spurring the Cougars to 33 third-quarter points to help extend their lead to 24.

“It’s about making plays for each other,” Graham said. “Making the extra pass, driving and kicking. I thought we did that really well.”

Graham finished with a team highs in both points (18) and assists (six).

Shaylee Gonzales looks to pass against Lipscomb on Tuesday at the Marriott Center. (Dallin Wilks)

The Cougars kept their foot on the gas pedal. Defensively, they added a few more steals, blocks, and even a forced shot-clock violation. Offensively, not only did they continue to score, but they also turned up the intensity on the offensive rebounds. With about four minutes to go, Judkins emptied the bench, essentially putting the nail in the coffin.

A big takeaway from this game was passing. BYU finished the game with 21 assists. Gonzales, who chalked up 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, was very pleased with the ball movement.

“It all starts with our chemistry,” Gonzales said. “Our team looks amazing when we make the extra pass.”

When asked if this is one of the better passing teams he’s had, Judkins answered with an immediate, “Yes. Yes. No question.”

Cougar fans should be very excited about this years’ squad. The intensity on defense, the all-around scoring ability and the fun energy on the court all point to an entertaining season ahead.

“I think you saw tonight what this team can do,” Judkins said. “I think we’re a nightmare.”

BYU will look to continue the excitement when they welcome Fresno State to the Marriott Center this Saturday, Nov. 13. Tip-off will be shortly after 4 p.m.

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