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PROVO (Nov. 23, 2007)— After surviving a barn-burning second half that featured a combined 48 points from the two squads, the BYU women's basketball team (3-2) narrowly defeated the Seton Hall Pirates (4-2) 47-43 in the Marriott Center Friday night.
The Cougars seemed to have the game under control early, going into the locker room at the half with a 28-14 lead. But Seton Hall hit the ground running to start the second frame, tearing off a 15-2 run through the first 8:36 of the half to close the gap to 31-29. The Pirates were sparked by their defense in the opening minutes of the period, scoring nine points off of five Cougar turnovers, as well as forcing BYU into missing its first nine shots of the half. The Pirate defense remained tough throughout the game, netting 18 points off of 19 Cougar turnovers on the night.
"In the second half we gave up too many turnovers and let them back in the game," Coach Judkins said. "We just need to do a better job taking care of the ball. Turnovers cause baskets, and we have to do a better job of it."
However, as the game wore on the Cougars were able to find their second wind, rallying behind senior captain Mallary Gillespie-Carling, who netted eight points in the second half, and finished with a game high 15, marking the 51st time the senior has scored in double figures.
The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the game, turning the final 10 minutes into a dog fight that came to a climax with :58 second remaining. Leading by a score of 42-41, Cassie King was fouled after pulling down a rebound in traffic off of a missed jumper by Seton Hall's Amber Harris. The foul sent King to the line where she found nothing but the bottom of the net in her two attempts. The two successful tries weren't the only big free throws the junior hit, as she had drained two freebies just minutes earlier to give BYU a three-point cushion.
"I always thought I was a good free thrower shooter," King said following the game. "I missed one last game and went home and shot about a thousand of them. Coming into tonight I told myself ‘I don't miss free throws,' and I made those four."
Free throws ended up being the deciding factor in the game for BYU, as Carling hit four of her own down the stretch, including the final two after a steal by Shawnee Slade with one second remaining to seal the victory for BYU.
BYU's solid finish to the game brought the contest full circle, as they began the game as strongly as they could have liked. The Cougars came out strong to start things off, going on a 12-2 run over the first 9:13 of the half. The strong defensive effort led to the Cougars giving up only 14 points in the first half, the least the team has given up this season.
"This team is very good defensively. Defense is our strength and we did well in the first half," Judkins said.
The Cougars will rely on their tough defense and momentum from Friday's victory against their next opponent, as they head east to take on the No.2 ranked Connecticut Huskies in Hartford on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. , ET.