BYU vs Nebraska: Lady Cougars hold on to win 80-76 and advance to Sweet Sixteen

Bailey and Morgan celebrate after a first round win.

With an 80-76 win, the Lady Cougars advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2002.

Led by Morgan Bailey and her 18 points, BYU knocked off the 4th seed Nebraska Cornhuskers in route to a place in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2002.  The Cougars become only the third 12-seed in Women's NCAA Basketball history to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. BYU led most of the game and a key three-point play, and two free throws, by Jennifer Hamson put Nebraska away.  Lexi Eaton and Jennifer Hamson each added 15 points while Xojian Harry added 11.  Hamson also added 14 rebounds and four blocks.  Kim Beeston only finished with six points but added eight critical assists.  With the win the Cougars ensure that they, not Nebraska will be playing on the Nebraska home floor in the next round.

First Half

The Cougars came out strong in the half and built a 17 point lead with hot shooting and strong defense.  For the second straight game Jennifer Hamson was held in check on the offensive side of the ball, but for the second straight game she made a difference on the defensive side.  With nine rebounds in the half and three blocks, the Cornhuskers allowed Hamson to make her presence known early.  The Cougar defense also held the Cornhuskers to 33 percent shooting and only 22 percent from behind the arc.  BYU struggled to finish the half strong as they allowed their 17 point lead to be cut to nine before ending the half 41-30.  Morgan Bailey led all scorers at the half with 13 and Lexi Eaton added nine.

Second Half

Both teams started the second half a bit sloppy as turnovers and missed shots highlighted the first few minutes before the teams traded three point buckets.  Kylie Maeda made the most of her opportunities as she converted on her first three shots, all from behind the arc.  Nebraska took advantage of poor shooting by BYU and managed to cut the lead to four with just over 15  minutes left, and drew a third foul on Hamson.

Momentum appeared to be swinging the way of the Huskers, and the frustration was mounting for the Cougars.  With just over 13 minutes left in the half, BYU drew the first second half foul on the Cornhuskers and built their lead back up to nine on Bailey's 16th point.  Nebraska rode the hot hand of Jordan Hooper in the second half as she scored 12 points in the first nine minutes and cut the lead to one after a 7-0 run.  The foul trouble continued for the Cougars, shortly after Hamson converted her 22nd double-double of the year, she picked up her fourth foul and had to sit on the bench.  The lead was cut back to two before a trio of key three point shots by Xojian Harry led to a Nebraska time out and a 12 point Cougar lead.

After sitting on the bench for over seven minutes, Hamson returned to the game with a nine point lead due to the Cougars three-point shooting.  The Cougars allowed the Cornhuskers to hang around as turnovers and missed free-throws provided sparks, but Nebraska couldn't finish their shots and ended up fouling for the last two minutes.  The Cougars allowed them to pull within three at 75-72 before they ran down clock, leading to a key drive and dish by Eaton to Hamson giving the Cougars a cushion that was needed in the final seconds.  With less than 10 seconds left, and a four point lead, the Cornhuskers stole the ball and cut the lead to two with 4.4 seconds.  Hamson hit two free throws to put the game away and give the Cougars the 80-76 win.

Next Game

BYU will next face the University of Connecticut in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The game will be March 29th at 4:30 EDT on ESPN.

**Updated with broadcasting details**

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