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BYU women's basketball: Too many lapses cost the Cougars in an 82-70 loss to Washington

PROVO — The BYU women's basketball team is learning it can play with just about anyone during stretches, through 11 games played this season. The problem comes with maintaining a competitive level of play through four complete quarters — a problem that reared its ugly head during Thursday's 82-70 loss to No. 9-ranked Washington at the Marriott Center.

For a good portion of the game, the Cougars (6-5) played as the Huskies' (12-1) equal, forging big runs and matching whatever was thrown at them, for the most part. But lapsing against top teams, during any significant stretch, can work to bury you — a lesson the Cougars learned the hard way on Thursday.

"We've lost five games this year against really good teams where we've won two or three of the quarters," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "We've had one bad quarter in each of those games, and it's cost us."

That one bad quarter for the Cougars against Washington was the second. And it was pretty bad.

Having managed to stay with the Huskies throughout the first, things went south for the Cougars rather quickly during the second. The nation's leading scorer, Kelsey Plum, came alive during a 15-2 scoring run right before the half — boosting Washington to a commanding 43-23 lead at the break.

"We were tentative and kind of let them come at us. And we got soft," said BYU guard Cassie Broadhead about the second quarter, which saw Washington outscore the Cougars 25-7.

Rather than just fold, the Cougars came out in the second half appearing poised to make a run at taking the lead back. Aggressive play and good ball-movement combined to provide a 13-0 run for BYU and cut the lead to just 43-36 with 6:23 left in the third.

"I was really proud of my team in the second half — coming back to cut (the lead) to seven (points) and then we just kind of relaxed for about two or three minutes," Judkins said.

The stretch after the 13-0 saw Washington quickly gain back full control, as the visiting Huskies put together a 19-2 run to lead at 62-38 toward the end of the third quarter.

"We knew we couldn't do that against them. We knew we had to maintain intensity for every little bit," Judkins said.

The Cougars managed to outscore the Huskies 27-20 in the fourth quarter, but the hole dug in the second quater, and through the final half of the third proved much too deep to dig out of.

BYU was led by Broadhead, who managed a career-high 24 points to go with four assists and three steals, but leveled herself some pointed criticism after the game.

"I'd rather have zero points and a win," Broadhead, who plays the point, said. "In order for us to win, I have to be aggressive … if I'm not aggresssive, our offense is stagnant, and that's what happened in the second quarter. … I wasn't taking what the defense was giving us. … It was definitely my fault — that second quarter."

Kalani Purcell added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars while freshman Brenna Chase added 10 off the bench.

The Huskies were led by Plum and her game-high 29 points on 9-12 shooting from the field. Chantel Osahor and Katie Collier added 20 and 14 points, respectively.

Next up for the Cougars is a game at Santa Clara a week from Thursday, which will mark the opening game of West Coast Conference play.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney