Tegan Graham shoots against Washington State (BYU Photo).

BYU women’s hoops defeats Washington State, moves to 9-1 on the season

BYU women’s basketball put four scorers in double figures against Washington State, smoking the Pac-12’s first-place squad late in a 71-53 affair Saturday afternoon in Provo.

The Cougars led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Wazzu tightened up on defense, eventually cutting the deficit to just a point with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. BYU center Sara Hamson came off the bench and delivered for back-to-back layups in the paint, followed by a Tegan Graham 3-pointer to put the Cougars up by nine with six minutes to play. Paisley Harding added another three less than 30 seconds later, and the Cougars never looked back.

Playing with fire amid foul trouble, Harding led the Cougars with 20 points, with Graham adding 15 points and five assists of her own. Shaylee Gonzales added 13 points, six rebounds, a pair of blocks and steal, while Lauren Gustin snatched up 13 boards with seven points.

“We’re gonna score points, we have so many different weapons on this team,” Harding said.

In a bizarre shooting display, Wazzu shot a solid 13-of-31 from behind the arc and an atrocious 3-of-29 from the rest of the floor, putting the crimson Cougars in a late offensive funk that ultimately cost them the game. Led by Hamson’s 10 bench points and excellent collective ball movement to open up lanes underneath, BYU waxed Wazzu down low for a 40-2 scoring advantage in the paint.

Washington State entered the contest as an elite defensive unit allowing just 54.3 points per game, but BYU’s late run bit that number to cross the 70-point threshold for the seventh time this season.

“They’re such a good defensive team, but we’re just as good,” Harding said. “Our defense kept us in this game.”

The No. 20 ranked Cougars move to 9-1 on the campaign, now with five victories over Power-5 opponents under their belt. BYU travels to Montana State in search of their 10th victory Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. MST.

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