BYU vs UConn game recap: Cougars fight but come up short

Kim Beeston talks with her Coach in the NCAA Tournament - Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

With a spot in the Elite eight on the line, the Cougars went toe to toe with the Huskies for just over a half before falling victim to the #1 seed.

The Cougars season didn't end how they had hoped but after fighting tough against the Huskies, the players and coaches were able to walk out of the NCAA Tournament with their heads held high and a proud fan base cheering behind them.

First Half

The two teams came out with defense on their minds as the pace was set early by defensive stops and smothering sets.  The Huskies couldn't buy a long ball in the first 10 minutes while three Cougar makes from behind the arc helped them keep pace.  The Cougars held a two point lead at 19-17 with under nine to play as Jennifer Hamson continued to block and alter shots.  The Cougars were not going to be intimidated and came out looking like a team that was ready to fight.

With 7:30  in the half the Cougars managed a five point lead, which was the largest deficit of the year for the Huskies, and continued to show that they were could play with anyone.  With the same amount of time in the half against Saint Joseph's the Huskies had a 23 point lead, and an 18 point lead against Prairie View A&M.  The Cougars continued to frustrate the Connecticut offense and increased their lead to six with a couple of timely shots.  With under four minutes to go, the Cougars held a 27-23 lead but were facing some foul trouble as Morgan Bailey and Lexi Eaton both had two fouls.  Kim Beeston lead the charge with 13 in the half.  The Cougars struggled to close out the half as Connecticut tightened the screws and forced turnovers.  BYU continued to make it tough on the Huskies offense but allowed them to come back and take the lead with a minute to go.  BYU took the lead right back with a clutch shot by Kylie Maeda off an assist by Xojian harry.  With less than 30 seconds in the half UConn took the lead again and maintained their streak of not trailing at halftime this year.  BYU came into the game as a 33 point underdog but led most of the half and went into the locker room only down one at 30-29.  The 30 points for UConn is also a low for the season.

Second Half

The Cougars came out strong in the second half and hit the first bucket to claim a second half lead but the Huskies came right back and hit a shot of their own.  Eaton came out looking to score as she looked to improve on her two point first half and scored a quick four.  The teams continued to battle on both ends as they pressed and looked to find any weakness in the other team.  With two timely three point shots, the first two of the game, the Huskies took a seven point lead and forced the Cougars to call a time-out with under 16 minutes to play.  Eaton was called for her third foul just previous to this and was forced to play a bit conservative on the defensive end.  With momentum swinging the Huskies way, each mistake by the Cougars turned into points and they were losing control of the game.

It appeared that the Cougars slowed the momentum as the teams traded baskets for a bit but could only pull within eight before Eaton and Bailey were each called for their fourth fouls and had to be replaced.  The Cougars managed to keep the deficet to single digits at the under 12 minute time out and looked to regroup for another push.  the push came soon after the time out and a lay up by Hamson and a three point shot by Beeston pulled the Cougars back to within six.  After a subsequent 7-0 run by UConn, and a 13 point lead, it appeared that the magical season for the Cougars had come to an end.  Second chance points plagued the Cougars as they couldn't stop the offensive rebounds and put backs.  With a very comfortable 16 point lead with under six to play, UConn began to run clock and not risk letting the feisty Cougars back into the game.  As the Cougars scrambled to cut the lead, the Huskies found their shot and began to pull away on easy shots and smothering defense.  With the Cougars wearing down in the final minutes of the game, the Cougars continued to fight but couldn't get a shot to fall as they failed to cut into the lead.  As the final minutes concluded, the coach Judkins made sure his senior leaders were able to leave the floor to an ovation from the cougar faithful.  The final score of 70-51 didn't show how close the game was, but the team walked out to a chant of BYU.

Thank you!

The Lady Cougars once again gave fans a remarkable season and a glimpse of why the Cougar fan base should be grateful for the teams they have.  They gave us hope and they gave us excitement.  In a year they were picked to finish fourth in their conference, they enthralled a nation with a sweet sixteen run.  For all BYU fans we send out our congratulations and our thanks to the BYU Women's Basketball team!

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