BYU Women’s Basketball Make NCAA Tournament Appearance

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 24 March 2015

Brigham Young Cougars guard Kylie Maeda (15) and the Brigham Young Cougars players celebrate their win over the San Francisco Lady Dons during the West Coast Conference Basketball Championship game in Las Vegas March 10, 2015. BYU won 76-65.  Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The Cougars make an NCAA tournament for the second year in a row as the women’s basketball team finished the season 23-9 and won the WCC Championship.

“They’re not afraid. I think they showed that last year with UConn. We know if we come out and play and do what we need to do that we can stay with anybody.” —Jeff Judkins, coach 

PROVO, UTAH

Brigham Young University’s women’s basketball team began the 2014–2015 season with understandably high hopes. After all, the team was coming off a season where the Cougars made it to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual national champion Connecticut.

Those hopes took an early hit. The team dropped a season opening exhibition game to Utah’s Westminster College, then lost two of their next three games.

The Cougars returned to their winning ways with a November 22 victory over Nevada. They finished the season with a 23-9 record that included dramatic victories in the March 9 West Coast Conference tournament semifinals over top-seeded Gonzaga and, a day later, in the tournament final against San Francisco.

As the conference tournament champions, BYU earned an automatic bid in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The 14th-seeded Cougars will play 3rd-seeded Louisville on March 21 in Tampa, Florida. The game will mark the program’s second straight appearance in college basketball’s “Big Dance” and its sixth straight postseason tournament.

San Francisco Lady Dons guard Kalyn Simon (35) and Brigham Young Cougars forward Micaelee Orton (34) compete for the ball during the West Coast Conference Basketball Championship game in Las Vegas March 10, 2015. BYU won 76-65. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Brigham Young Cougars guard Makenzi Morrison (23) shoots a free throw during the West Coast Conference Basketball Championship game in Las Vegas March 10, 2015. BYU won 76-65. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

“I think the team likes a challenge,” Coach Jeff Judkins told the Deseret News. “They’re not afraid. I think they showed that last year with UConn. We know if we come out and play and do what we need to do that we can stay with anybody.”

The Cougars are a diverse squad. The players hail from a variety of states—including New York, Florida, Hawaii, California, and Utah. Many are Church members. Others are not. But the team’s unexpected return to the NCAA tournament is evidence of its unity and purpose.

Senior forward Morgan Bailey was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, while junior guard Lexi Eaton earned all-conference awards.

BYU’s men’s basketball team also returned this season to the NCAA national basketball tournament.

The Cougars finished with a 25-10 record following their March 17 first-round loss of 94-90 to Mississippi. BYU led by as many as 17 points in the game, but a strong second half by Ole Miss put an end to the Cougar season.

The men’s team has played in the NCAA tournament eight times in the last nine seasons.

Brigham Young Cougars guard Lexi Eaton (21) shoots and scores the game-winning basket against Saint Mary’s Gaels during the West Coast Conference Basketball Championships in Las Vegas Thursday, March 5, 2015. BYU won 65-64. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Brigham Young Cougars forward Morgan Bailey (41) shoots over San Francisco Lady Dons forward Paige Spietz (3) during the West Coast Conference Basketball Championship game in Las Vegas March 10, 2015. BYU won 76-65. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.