Lauren Gustin drives against Saint Mary's in the Marriott Center. (Decker Westenburg)

Defense shines in 78-36 BYU women’s basketball win over Saint Mary’s

No. 18 BYU women’s basketball took down Saint Mary’s in dominant fashion on Thursday in the Marriott Center, beating the Gaels 78-36 and putting BYU at 14-1 overall and a WCC-best 3-0 conference record.

Paisley Harding led all scorers with 18 points shooting 8-of-19 from the field while Lauren Gustin followed just behind, scoring 15. The second-best rebounder in the nation, Gustin recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 12 rebounds.

After being named WCC Player of the Week, Shaylee Gonzales also put up some notable stats, bringing in 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists. 

Shaylee Gonzales lays the ball up against Saint Mary’s. (Emma Gadeski)

BYU came out quick defensively in the first quarter, grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring 12 points off of turnovers. A late first-quarter foul against Gustin solidified the Cougars’ lead, putting them up 24-5. The Gaels struggled to find a response in quarter two as they went into the half trailing by 31 points.

A brief momentum shift took place at the beginning of the second half as the Gaels went on a 10-0 run within the first few minutes. However, it was only a matter of time before BYU bounced back on its feet. Finishing with 23 points in the third, the Cougars went into the final quarter of the game leading 64-29.  

The remainder of the game was uneventful for the Gaels, as they were outscored by the Cougars 14-7 in the fourth quarter. Finishing with 25 turnovers and only one player scoring in double figures, it’s easy to understand why the game finished the way it did for Saint Mary’s.

Maria Albiero chases the ball in the Marriott Center. (Decker Westenburg)

A clear domination from the BYU defensive standpoint, senior guard Maria Albiero expressed her satisfaction in the post-game press conference. “I love playing defense, so when you see the whole team doing that it’s super tangible.”

BYU is expected to remain ranked for its eighth week in a row, the most consecutive weeks since 2006. To add to the excitement, ESPN’s current bracketology places the Cougars as a five seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“This team, they just know how to win,” head coach Jeff Judkins said. “To see them perform, I’m just so happy for them. I’m probably more happy for them than they are for themselves.”

The Cougars continue their season with a three-game road trip starting in Los Angeles, where they’ll take on the Loyola Marymount Lions at 3 p.m. MST on Saturday.

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