Defense powers BYU women to 80-64 win over Fresno State

(Chuck Burton | AP) BYU's Paisley Harding (13) celebrates after BYU defeated Rutgers in a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the University Events Center in San Marcos, Texas, Monday, March 22, 2021. BYU defeated Rutgers 69-66.

Provo • A staunch defensive effort carried the BYU women’s basketball team to a 80-64 victory over Fresno State on Saturday. 

The Cougars — who recorded 10 steals, seven blocks and forced 13 turnovers — improved to 2-0 on the season after knocking off the Bulldogs, preseason favorites to win the Mountain West Conference this season.

“Fresno State is a very good team and I bet they’ll win the Mountain West or be right there,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “Tonight, we won this game because of defense. I thought our trapping against their two best players and getting the ball out of their hands was definitely a key tonight.”

Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Harding led the Cougars with 22 points apiece. Gonzales also collected five rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks. Harding shot 53.3% from the field while adding two assists and a steal. She also drained four 3-pointers. 

Lauren Gustin recorded her second consecutive double-double with 16 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, and 13 rebounds.

Tegan Graham and Maria Albiero each tallied eight assists for the Cougars.