The BYU women’s basketball team became the first lower-seeded team to pull an upset in the NCAA Tournament, rallying with a strong fourth quarter to beat Rutgers 69-66 on Monday at Strahan Arena in San Marcos, Texas.
The Cougars will face No. 3 seed Arizona, a 79-44 winner over Stony Brook, in the second round on Wednesday.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
- Senior Paisley Harding had a monster game for the Cougars (19-5), scoring a team-high 28 points on 8 of 17 shooting, and that included making four 3-pointers. Johnson-Harding was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line and added five rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot, though she turned the ball over nine times. Shaylee Gonzales added 17 points, with most of her damage coming from the free-throw line, as BYU overcame shooting 37% and a 30-point effort from Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes.
- Rutgers (14-5) led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before BYU fought back to take the lead halfway through the final period. The Cougars used a 12-0 run to go ahead in the fourth, then held off all Scarlet Knights’ rallies down the stretch. A key moment came when Gonzalez was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 30.9 seconds to play with the shot clock about to expire, and she hit all three free throws to make it a 65-61 game. From there, BYU, which outscored Rutgers 26-16 in the final quarter, sealed the win from the free-throw line.
- BYU was more efficient from outside, hitting nine 3-pointers to five for Rutgers. That included a 3 from Tegan Graham, who scored all nine of her points from long range, that gave BYU a 62-58 lead with a little over a minute to play. Both teams struggled with turnovers throughout, but BYU did more with Rutgers’ miscues, which included a turnover with 16 seconds to play and the Scarlet Knights down four. The Cougars scored 22 points off 20 Rutgers turnovers, while the Scarlet Knights had 13 points off 19 BYU turnovers.