Provo • BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins has waited all season for his team to get the balanced scoring it was capable of and for 6-foot-7 center Jennifer Hamson to dominate games like she did in the postseason last year.
It finally happened on Saturday afternoon in a second-round game of the women's National Invitation Tournament, as the Cougars put it all together to upset Mountain West Conference regular-season champion San Diego State 69-58 at the Marriott Center.
"This was one of our best games of the season, overall, against a very good team," Judkins said.
BYU (23-10) will play the winner of Sunday's Saint Mary's-at-Northern Colorado game next week, most likely on Tuesday. Chances are good, BYU officials believe, the Cougars will host that game.
The Aztecs fell to 27-7 in renewing the rivalry with their former MWC foe, a disappointing ending to a fantastic season that saw the visitors win 17 straight games before falling to Fresno State in the championship game of the MWC tournament in Las Vegas.
"Congratulations to BYU," said SDSU coach Beth Burns, who noted her team was still trying to shake off the disappointment of not making it to the NCAA Tournament. "They really stuck to their guns … they did a great job of preventing us from scoring."
Kim Beeston led BYU with 17 points, and hit a critical 3-pointer with about two minutes left when SDSU was successfully rallying from what had ballooned to a 15-point deficit midway through the half. Haley Steed chipped in 13 points, and Stephanie Seaborn added 12, swishing a pair of 3-pointers to spark a 19-3 BYU run early in the second half.
But Hamson was the catalyst on defense, as Judkins went to a diamond-and-one to contain SDSU's Courtney Clements, who still finished with 15 points, but needed 18 shots. Hamson grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, blocked five shots, altered at least a half-dozen more and scored 10 points.
"Our team has done a good job embracing this moment to play in the WNIT," Steed said. "We are trying to make the most of the opportunity."
BYU 69, San Diego State 58
O The Cougars advance to the third round with an upset of the MWC regular-season champs
• Jennifer Hamson scored 10 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in the win