Lauren Gustin, left and Shaylee Gonzales high give following a free throw against LMU. (Jake Roper)

No. 20 BYU women’s basketball wins turnover battle, defeats LMU 77-54

It was just another day in the office for No. 20 BYU women’s basketball who took care of business against conference opponent LMU, 77-54 at the Marriott Center Thursday.

Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Harding led the way for the Cougars scoring a combined 37 points en route to a 23-point beating of the Lions.

BYU stayed true to its top-10 national scoring offense and fourth-ranked 20-point margin of victory, despite lacking offensive production from starters Tegan Graham and Lauren Gustin.

“That really shows how special this team is and how deep we are. Anyone can be off on any given day and anyone can step up,” Sara Hamson said. The senior center scored nine points off the bench and swatted two shots with her daunting paint presence.

BYU put on a rebounding clinic grabbing 40 boards to the Lions’ 26. The positive rebounding margin worked in the Cougars’ favor as they were able to tally 17 second-chance points off of offensive boards.

Gustin grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and was followed closely by eight from Gonzales who was just two boards shy of another double-double.

Gonzales got the Cougars started early with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half, trailed by nine points from Harding. The team entered halftime with an 11-point lead, perhaps a little too close for comfort.

BYU won the turnover battle in the first half, limiting its mistakes to just eight, and took even better care of the ball in the second half with only three giveaways. LMU was far more clumsy with its possessions, coughing up 23 total turnovers and allowing 28 BYU points off of those mistakes.

The BYU offense got off to a slow start through six minutes of play in the second half until Gonzales scored two quick baskets, giving the Cougars the offensive spark they needed to end the period on a 13-2 run.

Shaylee Gonzales shoots against LMU. (Decker Westenburg)

LMU’s leading scorer, Ariel Johnson, led the way with 12 points for the Lions, knocking down two of the team’s seven shots from beyond the arc. LMU shot an impressive 41% from 3-point land but it wasn’t enough to stick with a BYU team who absolutely dominated the paint, out-scoring the Lions 48-16.

BYU started the fourth quarter of play with a commanding 18-point lead and kept its fire burning until the final buzzer sounded. Freshman forward Emma Calvert entered the game with seven minutes on the clock and scored six points to maintain the lead.

The full BYU team took to center court following the win and senior Maria Albiero took the mic, thanking the crowd for its support and encouraging all to show up Saturday for the team’s senior night and final home stand against Gonzaga.

“Senior night is the toughest night as a head coach,” Judkins said. “I hope Saturday will be great for everybody because they deserve it. No question (a win) would be really special.”

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