After starting every game last season, BYU guard unexpectedly leaves the team

Nani Falatea spent two-plus seasons with the Cougars before abruptly departing.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU Cougars guard Nani Falatea (3) moves the ball down court in basketball action between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.

The guard rotation for the BYU women’s basketball team just got glaringly thinner.

Junior point guard Nani Falatea “stepped away from the program,” coach Amber Whiting said after Tuesday’s 72-66 over Utah State.

In her opening statement after surviving a comeback from the Aggies, Whiting said she was proud of her players for sticking together through “some adversity with things on the court, off the court.” After she announced Falatea’s departure, she acknowledged that the guard leaving the team was the “adversity” she alluded to.

Falatea was not on the bench against the Aggies after playing against the Utes on Saturday. She had been battling injuries this season, and appeared in just three games while starting one.

Last season was a breakout for Falatea. She started all 33 games, and averaged 15.3 points and 4.5 assists. It appeared that she would have a major role coming into her junior season before she was sidelined with injuries.