MORAGA, Calif. — A heated race in the West Coast Conference got even hotter Saturday, as the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team used free throws and 3-pointers to defeat BYU 64-58 and pull into a tie for second place with two regular season games left, all in their annual “Pink Game.”
The Gaels (16-11, 11-5 WCC) pulled even with the Cougars (17-10, 11-5 WCC) at 11-5 in WCC play. With two games left on the schedule, the Gaels are assured no lower than a No. 3 seed in next month’s WCC Championship Tournament after earning the season sweep over San Francisco and Santa Clara losing Saturday at San Diego. The win by Saint Mary’s avenged a five-point defeat on Jan. 5 at BYU.
“I felt as though we had some momentum, and then we didn’t play as well as we should have on Thursday, and then we get a little bit of it back today. I think that’s going to help,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Paul Thomas. “You hate to say it, but I’m going to use a cliché, we have to get better. There are some areas that we just need to improve.”
Saint Mary’s hit seven 3-pointers and took advantage of opportunities at the line with 23 free throws. SMC had three players in double figures and nine players score at least two points. Carly Turner led the way with 16 points. Turner tied a career high with four 3-pointers and also had four rebounds and a team-high three assists.
“I have put in a lot of work on my shooting, especially with Coach Allyson (Fasnacht) over the year,” said Turner. “It’s just really frustrating when you feel good in practice and they’re going in, they’re going in when I’m shooting before the game, and then during the game you’re getting nothing out of it. I think it’s one of those things where you just need to stick with and it finally came back tonight and hopefully it sticks around the rest of the season.”
SMC jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the start, but BYU answered with a 14-3 run to take a 14-10 advantage. Turner’s first 3-pointer of the game gave the Gaels a 15-14 lead with one minute left in the first quarter. Her second trey 90 seconds into the second quarter gave the Gaels the lead for good.
Saint Mary’s led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter before BYU started bringing the press and forcing turnovers. The Gaels committed 24 turnovers, the third straight game they’ve had more than 20 giveaways and 14th this season. But even though BYU had less turnovers (18), the Gaels took better advantage of them, outscoring the Cougars 23-22 on points off turnovers.
WCC leading scorer Cassie Broadhead scored 18 points, 14 in the second half. She had just four points on 2 for 7 shooting when Saint Mary’s led 30-25 at halftime. Kalani Purcell, the WCC’s leading rebounder, was limited to nine points on 4 for 12 shooting and nine boards before fouling out midway through the fourth. BYU shot 37.7 percent in the game, including 35.5 percent in the first half.
Saint Mary’s will play their next game against Pepperdine on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in McKeon Pavilion. Being the final home game of the year, the Gaels will honor their five seniors as part of Senior Night. Tickets are available for purchase on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. Additionally, the game will be streamed live on the Gaels’ Gameday Central page.
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