Paisley Harding had a season-high 28 points and Lauren Gustin had 10 points and 11 rebounds to lead BYU to a 69-66 victory Monday over Rutgers in a first round game of the NCAA tournament at San Marcos, Texas.
Gilbert Mesquite alum Shaylee Gonzales added 17 points, including 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. She also had six rebounds and four assists.
No. 11-seeded BYU (19-5) will play No. 3 Arizona (17-5) on Wednesday in a second-round matchup.
The Wildcats will face BYU coach Jeff Judkins, a former WAC nemesis for Arizona as a player at Utah and part of the Utes’ coaching staff in 1998 when the Utes upset defending champion Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the men’s tournament.
After leading by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, Rutgers’ lead was cut by BYU to 50-43 going into the fourth quarter.
Harding converted a 3-point play and then a 3-point shot in consecutive possessions to cut Rutgers’ lead to 54-51 with 7:20 left.
That sparked a 12-0 run for the Cougars, who took a 57-54 lead with 4:04 left on two free throws by Gustin.
Rutgers had a scoring drought of 5 minutes, 32 seconds before Arella Guirantes made a jumper with 3:16 left to cut the lead to 57-56.
A foul on a 3-point try by Gonzales with 30 seconds left was critical. Gonzales made all three to push BYU’s lead to 65-61.
After Guirantes made a jumper, Gonzales converted two more free throws with 24 seconds left to give the Cougars a 67-63 lead.
A 3-pointer by Liz Martino cut BYU’s lead to 68-66 with 3 seconds left.
Harding made one of two free throws after she was fouled following Martino’s shot. A last-second heave by Rutgers fell off the mark.
The Cougars made 9-of-23 shots from 3-point range led by Harding going 4 for 9 and Tegan Graham making 3 of 4.
BYU capsule with stats entering Monday:
NO. 11 BYU COUGARS
19-5, 13-3 West Coast Conference
NET ranking: No. 50
Big Wins: Nov. 27 No. 61 LSU (67-51), Feb. 18 No. 16 Gonzaga (61-56)
Bad Losses: Nov. 28 No. 85 Washington (77-48), Jan. 4 at No. 122 San Diego (58-56), Feb. 27 at No. 112 San Francisco (86-72)
Coach: Jeff Judkins (404-192, 20th season)
- G Maria Albiero, Sr., 5.3 ppg, 3.2 apg
- G Paisley Harding, Sr., 14.0 ppg, 3.3 apg
- G Shaylee Gonzales, Soph., 17.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 spg
- F Lauren Gustin, Soph., 11.5 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
- C Sara Hamson, Sr., 5.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg
Key Role Players:
- G Tegan Graham, Sr., 8.1 ppg, 2.0 apg
- G Kaylee Smiler, Soph., 3.1 ppg, 1.1 apg
By the Numbers:
- Scoring Offense: 69.9 (99th in nation)
- Scoring Defense: 60.1 (69)
- Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (36)
- Field-Goal Defense: 36.2 (26)
- Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (91)
- Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.9 (74)
- Free-Throw Percentage: 72.5 (100)
- Rebound Margin: 4.2 (65)
- Assists Per Game: 16.9 (16)
- Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (82)
NCAA tournament appearance: 14th
Furthest NCAA tournament run: Sweet 16 in 2000-01 and 2013-14
History against Arizona: 8-5, last meeting on Nov. 13, 2013, when the Cougars beat Arizona 64-56 in Provo, Utah.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.