LAS VEGAS - Lexi Eaton scored the game-winning layup with two seconds left to push BYU women's basketball past Saint Mary's 65-64 in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament Thursday night.
"I think you saw two teams that played tough and battled, which is how they played all season long," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "I have to give thme a lot of credit, they (Saint Mary's) are a hard team to play. They are well coached and hard to defend. I'm proud of our team and how they played tonight, especially Lexi and Morgan. We changed a lot of things and ran a lot of different defenses. The girls took it to heart and executed it."
With this win, the Cougars (21-9, 12-6 WCC) advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the No. 1 seed Gonzaga against No. 8 seed Loyola Marymount on Friday. Saint Mary's (20-10, 13-5 WCC) swept BYU in the regular season but was unable to come out the winner in this contest.
Eaton led the Cougars with 30 points, which was a game high in points. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
"I was just trying to attack," Eaton said. "I saw the driving lanes open up a lot for me this game. I wanted to fight and attack and do what we had to win. We knew we could play with them, and it was just a matter of finishing out the possessions at the end of the game."
Cassie Broadhead came off the bench to score 10 points, going 5 of 5 from the charity stripe. Despite scoring just four points, Morgan Bailey grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Both Xojian Harry and Kylie Maeda scored seven points, including three treys between the two.
Neither team was able to go on a big run late in the game. Maeda banked in a deep jumper to go up 61-60 with 2:12 remaining in the game. The Gaels had a key putback with less than a minute remaining to take the late 64-63 lead. With two seconds left, Eaton powered through the defense for the game-winning layup to beat Saint Mary's for the first time this season.
The first five minutes of the game was a defensive battle, both teams scoring a combined eight points. Eaton drove to the basket for the Cougars' first points, but they would then go scoreless for four minutes.With 15:13 remaining in the half, Maeda found Eaton cutting to the bucket for a quick two points to cut Saint Mary's lead to 6-4. Over the next seven minutes, BYU went on a 14-3 run that included three treys, one of which was a four-point play by Broadhead to kick off the big run.
Saint Mary's answered with a 10-2 run to take back the lead, but Savannah Irwin scored a tough bucket to tie it up 22-22 with 2:35 left in the half. The two teams kept it close in the half. Eaton nailed a jump shot with 13 seconds left, but the Gaels held on to the 30-28 lead going into halftime.The second half began right where the first half left off, both teams keeping up the intensity. With 14:43 remaining, Eaton drove straight to the basket for a quick layup, tying the game 37-37. Kristine Fuller capped off an 11-4 BYU run with a tricky layup to take the 41-39 lead.
The Gaels later went on a 9-0 run to take back the lead, 51-46. After a missed shot, Eaton grabbed the offensive rebound and put it right back into the basket to close in on Saint Mary's lead. A mid-range jumper by Bailey tied the game up 54-54 with 6:25 left.
BYU's next game will be Monday at 12 p.m. PST against the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 8 seed Loyola Marymount. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Live stats will also be available on the BYU women's basketball schedule page.
BYU got five steals in the first half, while SMC tallied two. The Cougars would finish the game with eight steals, compared with seven for the Gaels.
The Cougars had nine points from SMC turnovers in the first half and finished the game with a total of 15. The Gaels got just six points from BYU miscues.
BYU got 14 points from its bench, compared with 12 for SMC.
With six total assists, the Cougars recorded their 23rd game leading their opponent in the assist category.
Lexi Eaton led the Cougars in the first half with 10 points, making it the 27th game that she's recorded double figures in scoring. Eaton also had a team-best two steals in the half. She finished the game with 30 for her 15th the game with 20-plus points and the fourth with 30 or more. Eaton was perfect from the free throw line, going 8 for 8.
Morgan Bailey had three rebounds in the first half of action to lead BYU. For the game, she pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, to go along with four points and two steals.
Cassie Broadhead tied her season high in points with six in the first half, the most off the bench for the Cougars. She picked up her first double digit outing in points of her career with 10.
Makenzi Morrison led BYU in steals with three to go along with three points.