Las Vegas • The last time BYU’s women’s basketball team played Pacific, the Cougars ran over the Tigers to the tune of 88-57 on Pacific’s own court, getting a measure of revenge for a 13-point loss to the West Coast Conference newcomer a month earlier.
Seemingly, Monday’s WCC tournament semifinal game against the Tigers (3:30 p.m. MDT, BYUtv) at Orleans Arena shouldn’t be that difficult for BYU (25-5), but coach Jeff Judkins begs to differ.
“Pacific is a really scary team,” Judkins said. “They are athletic. They are quick. They want to speed you up. … Their point guard [Kiki Moore] is really good. We have to do a good job on her, contain her a little bit, not let her get to the basket.”
The BYU-Pacific winner meets the Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s winner in Tuesday’s WCC championship game (2 p.m. MDT) with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line. BYU remains on the bubble for an at-large berth after crushing Pepperdine 77-51 in the quarterfinals on Friday, but two losses in a season to an 18-11 Pacific team, including one at home, would severely damage its resume.
In that 75-62 loss to the Tigers in the Marriott Center on Jan. 2, BYU’s Jennifer Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year, suffered a broken nose when she took an inadvertent elbow from a teammate and left the game with about eight minutes remaining. And fellow inside player Morgan Bailey, who had 17 points and eight rebounds on Friday, did not play.
“The second time we played them, we rotated the ball and got the ball inside,” Judkins said. “The one advantage we have over them is our size. They can drive and make you play their game, but if we can get the ball inside like we did at their place, we will be OK.”
BYU has won nine straight games, but Pacific has been almost as hot. The third-seeded Tigers have lost only two games in a month, to top-seeded Gonzaga and second-seeded BYU.
“They have a lot of good shooters, but they also have a lot of good drivers, too,” Hamson said. ‘Kiki Moore gets in there and takes it right to the rim. … That’s kind of where I come in.”
BYU will be at a slight disadvantage because it doesn’t practice on Sundays for religious reasons, per school rules. Judkins downplayed that factor, however, saying the Cougars easily won the last Monday game they played, 65-50 at Pepperdine.
BYU vs. Pacific
P At Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
Tipoff • 3:30 p.m. MDT
TV • BYUtv
Radio • None
Records • BYU 25-5; Pacific 18-11
Series history • BYU leads, 6-2
Last meeting • BYU 88, Pacific 57 (Feb. 1, 2014)
About the Tigers • They defeated Portland 84-72 in the quarterfinals after finishing in third place in the WCC regular season. … Kendall Kenyon leads them in scoring with a 16.3 average, while Kiki Moore averages 16.1 points and Madison Parrish chips in 11.3 points.
About the Cougars • They have advanced to the WCC tournament semifinals for the third straight year after downing Pepperdine 77-51 on Friday. … Jennifer Hamson leads them in scoring (18.3) rebounding (11.4) and blocked shots (4.2) and ranks 13th in the country in double-doubles.