It’s been 777 days since No. 20 BYU women’s basketball lost in the Marriott Center.
That streak continued Saturday, as the Cougars took care of business in a dominating 63-39 victory over Gonzaga.
Though much has changed in the world since the Cougars’ last home defeat, a loss to Portland over two years ago, BYU’s unblemished home record has remained constant, the winning streak has continued as the Cougars finished with a perfect home record for the second season in a row, extending that streak to 30 games Saturday afternoon.
Three more consecutive Marriott Center victories would match a school record 33 straight home wins set 41 years ago.
BYU head coach Jeff Judkins was unaware how high the streak had climbed, but said his team knew. He was more focused on what his team still could accomplish.
“I think tonight you saw what the BYU team is about,” Judkins said. “I think today was this team. This is how this team was built. This is how this team plays. I’m just so proud of them. This was a big game. A lot was on the line.”
BYU and Gonzaga each came into the game with just one loss in conference play, with Gonzaga’s only defeat coming against the Cougars two weeks ago.
In that game, BYU outscored the Bulldogs 42-15 in the second half to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit and come home victorious.
This time, there was no comeback needed, as the Cougars remained in control for much of the contest.
Two Cougars scored in double figures, with sophomore Shaylee Gonzales pouring in 21 points and Paisley Harding adding 16 to lead all other scorers.
A rambunctious Marriott Center crowd of 6,289, a school record for women’s basketball, aided the Cougars in their 24-point win.
“I knew we’d have a really good crowd,” Judkins said. “I think we had more than 6,000 people to tell you the truth. I think people snuck in here, didn’t pay for a ticket, whatever, but what an atmosphere.”
For five Cougars, it marked their final game in front of the Marriott Center crowd.
Though she did not suit up, Kayla Belles-Lee’s BYU career came to an end Saturday, and she was joined by center Sara Hamson and guards Harding, Tegan Graham and Maria Albiero.
Hamson, Graham, Albiero and Harding all got on the board against Gonzaga, combining for 32 points.
“Every one of them has been a big piece of BYU basketball, and they’ll all be remembered for what they’ve accomplished here,” Judkins said of the seniors.
“They set the tone for this program. Those little freshmen right now, they’re seeing the way it’s supposed to be done.”
Despite playing its last game in the Marriott Center this year, BYU feels the season is far from over. After being ranked as high as No. 16, the Cougars have much more they want to accomplish, with their sights set on a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Judkins recognizes that much more lies ahead past the Cougars’ win on Senior Night.
“They (want) to be able to really make a mark, and this is part of it,” Judkins said of his team’s victory. “There are many many more parts of it.”
Another one of the Cougars’ goals is a West Coast Conference championship, and with Saturday’s win, BYU’s grip on first place in the WCC standings just got tighter.
One more victory would give the Cougars just their second WCC regular season championship.
“I think (the team) saw this, and they felt this was going to happen for them this year,” Judkins said.
The Cougars will continue the realization of their conference title dream next Thursday with an opportunity to clinch the crown on the road against the Santa Clara Broncos.
That game is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.