by Daniel Olsen
Paisley Harding was the fire that kept the Cougars going. When others struggled to hit their shot, she continued to excel and keep BYU in the game. They won by a score of 69-66 over Rutgers and secured the first upset in the tournament.
It was a minor upset in a 6 vs 11 matchup but still an upset. In fact, this first upset of the tournament did not come until the second day of the Round of 64. The first day went all chalk for the first time in a decade. The BYU women played on ESPNU at 10 AM Mountain Time on Monday morning.
Harding finished the game with 28 points on the game. This included four shots from downtown and 47 percent overall from the field. She also chipped in five rebounds. The only complaint would be that she had nine turnovers. Rutgers used their athleticism to get into the passing lanes which made it hard for BYU early.
Shaylee Gonzales, leading scorer of the BYU Cougars, did not have her best game. However, that didn’t mean she wasn’t respectable. She had 17 points in the game on 17 percent shooting. While that percentage was poor, she did most of her damage at the free throw line with 8-10 coming from that spot.
The Cougars were outscored in each quarter except the final one when it counted. They outscored Rutgers 26-16 in the final frame. With the loss, Rutgers was bounced on the women’s side 14 hours after the men were eliminated the night before.
The Cougars were on the right side of the upset. Their WCC rival Gonzaga, however, was upset by 12 seed Belmont. They barely edged out the Cougars in the WCC Conference Tournament championship. With a win under their belt in the Big Dance, the Cougars have bragging rights at least in that respect.
Round of 32
The Cougars have earned a date with a school of another cat mascot. They will take on the Arizona Wildcats, the three seed of the Mercado region. The game will be played at 5 PM on Wednesday, March 24. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. The site will be the UTSA Convocation Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Like BYU, Arizona also lost in their conference tournament championship game. The UCLA Bruins won the Pac-12 championship on the women’s side. The Wildcats defeated 14 seed Stony Brook 79-44 in the first round.
Photo courtesy BYU Athletics