Shaylee Gonzales drives against Pacific against Jan. 8. (Decker Westenburg)

BYU women’s hoops pounds Pacific 94-68

BYU women’s basketball has been well aware of the target on its back. When you’re sitting at the top of the West Coast Conference in the first week of conference play and ranked No. 18 in the nation, it’s easy to understand why opponents would want to fire their best shot at you.

However, as Pacific learned the hard way Saturday afternoon, trying to take on the Cougars is a painful, humbling experience. In this case, the Tigers were flat-out embarrassed. The game was basically over as it began, with BYU racing to a 30-10 first-quarter advantage en route to a 94-68 pillaging.

“I thought tonight we moved the ball really well and did a great job of reading what the defense did,” head coach Jeff Judkins said. “That’s when this team is at its best, when everyone’s involved.”

The final score doesn’t quite capture the true nature of the beatdown, as it honestly felt that BYU was leading by 50 for the majority of the contest. Playing with a loose intensity, the Cougars controlled every aspect of the contest from start to finish, and had they not rested their starters in the fourth quarter, they likely would have crossed the 100-point threshold.

Simply put, the Cougars play as if they’ve come down from a higher league.

The Tigers were first to find the scoreboard with a basket on their opening possession, but perhaps they should have spared themselves the false hope. Before you could say “blowout”, the Cougars were off to a 21-0 run that felt like it only ended out of sportsmanship.

Shaylee Gonzales posted her finest performance of the season with 22 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals in just three quarters of work. Lauren Gustin — the nation’s second-leading rebounder — notched her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 boards.

How good is Lauren Gustin? She finished with more offensive rebounds than defensive, refusing to lose around the rim. It’s an unfair game, and Pacific never stood a chance against BYU’s towering “Killer G.”

Tegan Graham continued her 3-point mastery with 15 points exclusively from behind the arc, as well as dishing out five assists as BYU’s lead facilitator on offense. Paisley Harding added 14 points of her own and Maria Albiero created another six assists for the Cougars’ offense that just couldn’t stop scoring.

“With this team, anyone can step up,” Gonzales said. “Anyone can have a bad game, that happens. I knew I needed to be more aggressive today.”

BYU moves to 12-1 on the season and 2-0 within the conference, sharing their commanding victory with the season’s largest showing from the ROC student section. If students weren’t previously aware, there should be no questions following the Saturday slaughter that women’s hoops at BYU is a certified juggernaut.

“We had a massive turnout from the ROC tonight, and I don’t think they understand how big a difference that makes,” Graham said. “When I see people in the stands, it makes me so much happier.”

“They bring so much energy,” Gonzales added of the ROC.

Nani Falatea drives to the hoop against Pacific. (Emma Gadeski)

The Cougars look to continue their run of dominance at home against Saint Mary’s this coming Thursday, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Marriott Center.

“It really is exciting to bring this team here and have people support them,” Judkins said. “It’s a fun team. Our goal was not to lose a game here this year, and we’re still on that track.”

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