Paisley Harding looks to pass against Westminster. (Rebeca Fuentes/BYU Photo)

BYU women’s basketball stumbles in 75-64 loss at Portland

No. 16 BYU women’s basketball got its first loss of conference play 75-64 to the Portland Pilots on the road Thursday.

Both teams started strong, going back and forth early in the game. Portland gave BYU some problems early with a full-court press defense, leaving the Cougars little time to work with on offense.

BYU trailed halfway into the first quarter as Paisley Harding went to the bench with two quick fouls. The Cougars then went on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 18 at the end of the first quarter.

Portland continued the full-court press into the second quarter, as BYU struggled to just hang onto the ball, much less get down the court to score.

The key to the game was manifest: take care of the ball. Turnovers and steals abounded on both teams, but Portland was able convert BYU’s turnovers into points.

Graham broke a 7-0 Portland run with a three halfway into the second quarter, but Shaylee Gonzales soon picked up her third foul and BYU struggled to find any kind of rhythm.

Portland ended the half up 39-27 on a buzzer-beater drive. Defense was a big factor for the Pilots in the opening half. They out rebounded the Cougars 16-11, Gonzales only scored two points in the half and their full court pressure was a big factor in BYU’s 10 turnovers.

Portland started the second half strong with two quick points and a backcourt violation for BYU. The Cougars found some points in transition, however, and were able to hang in the game.

Gonzales fought to close the distance and scored eight quick points, but Portland still had an 11-point lead, 53-42, at the end of the third.

BYU came out in the fourth quarter playing strong defense, forcing two shot-clock violations and a turnover with full-court pressure on Portland’s first three possessions.

BYU cut the lead to three after three minutes and the momentum shifted.

Harding carried BYU to its first lead of the game, 62-61, with 3:45 left on the clock. Portland re-took the lead just 20 seconds later, however.

Both teams duked it out, but Portland took a four-point lead with one minute left. BYU tried to claw it’s way back, but with some fundamental errors, a few turnovers and giving up fouls to earn extra possessions, the Pilots walked away with a win, 75-64.

BYU finished with 20 turnovers and 22 team fouls to move to 18-2 on the season.

The Cougars stay on the road to face Gonzaga on Saturday at 3 p.m. MST.

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