Second half surge leads BYU women’s basketball to first win of the season
After a slow start in its season-opener in Bozeman, falling behind by double-digits in the first half, BYU women’s basketball won its first game of the season in the against Montana State after an impressive second half performance.
After giving up the first basket of the second half, the Cougars pounced and went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 34. The Bobcats quickly jumped ahead 39-34 and looked as if they were going to push their lead to double digits again.
With their backs against the wall, BYU responded to the Montana State offensive flurry with a flurry of their own hitting three huge three-point shots.
The first three came on a Lauren Davenport drive and kickout to the corner to Kailey Woolston to bring BYU back to within one possession, 39-37.
The Bobcats responded with a floater by Isobel Bunyan pushed Montana State’s lead back to 41-37. Sharpshooter Kaylee Smiler hit her first of back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to one. Bunyan answered again with another drive and finish, pushing the Montana State lead 43-40.
After a foul on Woolston’s baseline drive, BYU ran a beautiful baseline out-of-bounds set to tie the game.
Amari Whiting inbounded the ball to Lauren Gustin who swung the ball to Emma Calvert. Smiler set a screen for Gustin who cut to the middle of the lane. Both of Gustin’s and Smiler’s defenders stayed with Gustin, resulting in a wide-open Smiler flaring out for three. Completely flawless execution from the Cougars, setting the stage for Whiting to completely take over the game.
Whiting closed the quarter scoring four points on stealing the ball twice from Bobcats point guard Malea Egan in the final 2 minutes of the third quarter. Whiting scored 14 points in the last 13 minutes of the game to lead BYU to the 68-60 win after their sluggish start. She put on an absolute clinic on both ends of the floor to guide the Cougars to victory.
The Cougar’s first quarter was quite the opposite of the 33-2 drubbing of the exhibition match against Westminster last Wednesday. The Cougars started sloppily, committing 5 turnovers, shot 3-12 from the field and 1-6 from the free throw line ending the first period down 19-8.
The Bobcats started fast and were led by Bunyan who scored 7 points on 3-3 shooting in the first quarter finishing with 15 points.
The Cougars missed the veteran presence of Nani Falatea early on, who was out because of injury. The offense started slow and the Bobcats physicality and tough defense held Lauren Gustin to zero points and one field goal attempt after the first period.
After taking the first punch, BYU responded by outscoring Montana State in the last three quarters and finally pulled away after this play from Emma Calvert and Smiler.
What was most impressive about this win for BYU was that despite Gustin scoring nine points on 3-10 and Falatea’s absence, the three newcomers carried the Cougars to a win. Whiting led the way with 18 points, Woolston scored 13 and Davenport added in 12 points combining for 43 of BYU’s 68 points. Combine that with Gustin, Smiler and Falatea and the Cougars have a deep team ready to make some noise this season. In a game where Gustin struggled last season, the Cougars might not have stayed in the game. The trio of newcomers makes this team more potent and much better already.