BYU Women’s Basketball Loses to Villanova in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

Ann Arbor, Michigan – In the middle of the first quarter of Saturday’s NCAA Tournament, the No. 6 BYU seed looked like a hungry, aggressive team ready to advance to the next round.

Cougars opened with a 13-2 lead on No. 11 Villanova, but that was as good as BYU.

Over the next 35 minutes, the Wildcats outplayed and overpowered the Cougars, and in the end, they pulled an upset 61-57 into Crisler’s center.

With this, BYU’s historic season ended abruptly and bitterly.

“They got real physical, they started punching through the screens more aggressively, they started knocking us on the post, and…it seemed like we didn’t fight as much as we needed to,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said.

“We kind of got hit and then kind of got stuck. There was a lot of conversation in the timeout, (that) we have to compete, get out there, we have to be stronger. We can’t be so careless with the ball. They did a really good job of helping us.” away from the screens, especially once we get to that point, and that kind of pisses us off.”

In the first half, the Cougars (26-4) uncharacteristically started to cough the ball up and made 10 turns in the first 20 minutes. That day, Wildcat guard Lucy Olsen recorded six steals against BYU.

“I think we came out super strong, especially in defence. BYU guard Paisley Harding, who finished with a team-record 21 points, took them out of things they thought they would be able to get easily,” said BYU goalkeeper Paisley Harding.

“They’re starting to push a little bit more, and get more in our lanes. We’ve just had some careless turnarounds, which I think pretty much beat ourselves up there in that little stretch in the first quarter.”

Meanwhile, Villanova star Maddie Siegrist, who entered the day at number two nationally with a score of 25.9 points per game, finished with 25 points, the highest in the game.

This year’s Big East Player scored 19 of those points in the second half after starting 1 of 8 from the field.

“Villanova went to their star,” Judkins said of Siegrist. “In the second half they run everything through her and she’s a great player and she made some plays tonight as a coach she tried to double her but she’s fast enough to shoot her fast enough that you can’t get there.”

Sarah Hamson added: “We knew she was their number one goal scorer and we were really locked up in the first half, and then she adapted.

“I raised it a few notches and it really exploded. Kudos to it. You played a really great game.”

In the second half, Siegrist put her team on her shoulders.

“For Madness, it was just about settling in and seeing what was going on there and then just feeling the match,” Vilanova coach Denis Delon said.

“I think she’s done a great job this season.”

While Villanova (24-8) seemed to be getting stronger, BYU faded.

The Cougars never went out of play – their biggest deficit was seven points – but they struggled to seize the momentum and maintain their lead.

After making only 4 of 13 shots in the third quarter, BYU fought off a 55-48 deficit with just over five minutes remaining thanks to 7-1.

Harding buried a jump and Lauren Justin scored a corner kick. Then with 2:19 left, Teegan Graham hit a 3-pointer that pulled the Cougars to within 56-55.

Then Siegrist responded with a big bucket less than two minutes ago.

In the last minute, Harding missed a contested layup, Hampson scored a corner kick to make it 58-57 for the Wildcats and Siegrist made two free throws with 16.2 seconds on the clock to make the score 60-57.

“We had our chances,” Judkins said. “We had some good chances…we were there before. We played a lot of physical teams and we only have chances we didn’t play a couple there when we needed to.”

Siegrist put in a huge display on the defensive end, blocking Graham’s potentially game-teasing attempt by three points with nine seconds left.

“With the block, I can’t compromise any 3 seconds to number 10,” Siegrist said. “She really hit my face, so I knew she wouldn’t get 3 discount.”

BYU switched to area defense in the final minutes of the game, something Judkins wished he’d done sooner.

Villanova made only 6 out of 26 from a 3-point span.

“It’s bad on my part. I watched them play and they rip zones. I just thought, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do that.’ I should have done the assignment earlier and at least try to get them out of rhythm,” Judkins said.

“We went ahead and they caught us and went back and forth and ran a little bit. The area put them out of their movement. Maybe they should have done more.”

The Cougars finished the regular season after winning 25 out of 27 games, proving that they are one of the best offensive teams in the country. But BYU has lost two of its last three contests, including a setback to Gonzaga in a West Coast Conference Championship match.

The common denominator of BYU in those three postseason games? Well, bad shooting doomed the Cougars. They shot 39% against Villanova after shooting 35% against Portland and 32% against Gonzaga. BYU scored 59, 59 and 57 points respectively in its last three games.

“I think teams have a lot more fitness in tournaments, and I think that makes you feel a little bit more relaxed,” Judkins said. “I think one more thing, it’s a small thing, but it affected us… All the year I’ve been shooting a certain ball, then you go into the tournament and you shoot a completely different ball.

“I don’t know if other teams train with these balls all year long. I guarantee we will next year. We will train with those balls all year long, because there is a different feel.”

Judkins also praised Vilanova’s ability to defend.

“It looked like we were a little too far. You have to give the defense a lot of credit for that. They pushed us off the line, they rushed us,” he said.

“We have to shoot the ball well. We did all year. Those last three games were the worst we shot all year, and you can’t do that when you go into tournaments.”

Once again, the Wildcats set the tone early on after a rough start. Losing 13-2, Villanova responded 16-4 to take the first lead, 18-17, with 8:04 remaining in the second quarter.

During that boom, Kaitlyn O’Rehill came off the bench to score 10 of those points.

“I didn’t come up with a great implementation, but he did find a way,” Dillon said. “I talked to the team about making it a possession game, and they did exactly that and found a way to get a big win here in the championship.”

Judkins said one of the turning points in the first half was when the whistle was blown at goalkeeper Maria Albiero for her second personal foul, placing more responsibility on goalkeeper Shaile Gonzalez, who fired 3 of 14 from the ground and finished with eight points and eight assists. Five rotation.

“It really hurts us,” he said of Albiero’s awful problem. “Maria was doing a good job keeping the rhythm up.

“When Maria goes out, what happens is the ball is in Shaylee’s hand, and Shaylee is doing really well with handling the ball, but she’s not used to doing that all the time.”

So the Cougars, who have won records in 26 matches, captured the WCC regular season championship, earned the highest rating in the Associated Press and earned the best rating ever in the Big Dance — among other notable accomplishments — on their way back to Home, while the Wildcats will face No. 3 ranked Michigan on Monday.

“I want to congratulate Vilanova. They played a really good game. Give them a lot of credit and wish them all the best,” Judkins said.

“I would like to thank my team for a great season. They go 26-4, and to be able to compete at the highest level and be able to stay there and do things with the ups and downs of life and the season, I am very proud of them.”

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