No. 16 BYU women’s basketball team overcomes turnovers to rout San Diego

The No. 16 Cougars have committed 55 turnovers combined in the past three games.

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Brigham Young Cougars head coach Jeff Judkins reacts to a call by the official's, in Basketball action, Brigham Young Cougars vs. the Utah Utes, Saturday, December 10, 2016.

Provo • The BYU women’s basketball team led by more than 20 points late in the third quarter, but the assistant coaches on the sidelines tried to encourage a team that had some bad body language.

The No. 16 Cougars had just committed two consecutive turnovers, prompting a coach to say, “We’re all right, we’re all right.” BYU certainly ended up all right after beating the San Diego Toreros, 70-48, but the game underscored what the Cougars still need to clean up 17 games into the season.

BYU (16-1, 6-0 West Coast Conference) committed 22 turnovers in Monday night’s win. Two nights earlier against the same team, the Cougars gave the ball away 19 times.

In the last three games, the Cougars have turned the ball over a total of 55 times — an average of 18.3. They had 14 against Loyola Marymount.

Cougars coach Jeff Judkins said one reason for the high turnover rate is playing a feisty San Diego team twice in a row. The Toreros entered Monday’s game 14th in the country at forcing turnovers at 22.2 per game.

But Judkins is still none too pleased with the current trend.

“That concerns me because the more you turn the ball over, the less we get shots,” Judkins said. “And the more shots we get at the basket, we score more points.”

The last time the Cougars committed fewer than 10 turnovers was on Dec. 21 against Montana State-Bozeman.

Sophomore guard Shaylee Gonzales led the team with 20 points on 50% shooting, five rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Paisley Harding added 16 points on an efficient shooting night, with five rebounds and four assists. Lauren Gustin had 10 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.

Gonzales also had the most turnovers on the team with six.

“Our guards, they do a great job and they’re trying to handle as best as they [can],” Gustin said. “We have to be outlets for them, too, us bigs. We have to kind of help release some of that stress.”

San Diego tried various defensive looks against the Cougars. It started with a 3-2 zone, then went man-to-man, then to a press. Judkins said BYU didn’t fare well against the press initially because his players were trying to dribble out of it rather than pass, which they are better at doing.

He added, though, that Monday’s miscues actually had nothing to do with San Diego’s pressing defense.

“The press didn’t bother us,” Judkins said. “The turnovers came by us trying to make plays that weren’t there.” He said he told his players to “make the easy play” during multiple timeouts.

Judkins said turnovers will continue to be a topic of discussion.

“We have to do a better job of that and we’ll definitely work on it and try to get better at it,” he said.

The Cougars play Santa Clara at home on Thursday, a team that this third in the WCC.