Shaylee Gonzales prepares to shoot a free throw against West Virginia. (BYU Women's Basketball)

BYU women’s basketball strikes again, takes down No. 22 West Virginia 58-57

Late heroics from Shaylee Gonzales lifted BYU women’s basketball to a dramatic 58-57 win over No. 22 West Virginia, snatching their second straight upset victory to win the St. Pete Showcase in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I am so impressed with the grit and toughness of this group,” interim head coach Lee Cummard said. “Their belief in the game plan and in each other never wavered throughout. It was a total team effort this week and the outcomes showed it.”

The Cougars trailed 37-29 at the half, but 16 second-half points from Gonzales led the Cougar comeback effort, culminating in two go-ahead free throws in the game’s final seconds to capture the tournament crown.

Though the Mountaineers led for the majority of the contest, the Cougars were always knocking on the door with timely shooting and solid defense, swiping 11 steals, blocking six shots and outshooting West Virginia in every category. Free throws decided the game for the Cougars, having made 23-of-28 in the tournament as a major key to their consecutive upsets.

With the bulk of her work coming in the second half, Gonzales posted a total of 20 points and six rebounds in her third straight 20-plus point performance while being named MVP of the tournament.

“Shaylee was unbelievable. Her effort is always off the charts,” Cummard said. “She’s proven time in and time out that she loves the big moment and isn’t afraid of it. Get her the ball and get out of the way.”

Paisley Harding and Tegan Graham combined for 26 points and five steals while hitting four shots from beyond the arc. Maria Albiero had five assists and Lauren Gustin grabbed eight boards with a pair of steals.

“The unsung hero of this tourney was Maria (Albiero),” Cummard said. “She has poise and ability to run this team and help keep everyone calm and locked in. Her defense never goes unnoticed to our staff. I am glad she is on our team.”

The Cougars sit at 7-0 and will surely be ranked in the nation’s top 25 this coming week following consecutive ranked victories. Cummard is a sizzling 3-0 at the helm of the Cougars, filling in for an absent Jeff Judkins as he quarantines due to a positive COVID test.

BYU faces Utah next on Saturday, Dec. 4 in a road rivalry matchup to extend its undefeated campaign.

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