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Second-half rally leads BYU women's basketball to 2nd ranked win in 3 days

Tegan Graham during a BYU women's basketball game, Nov.r 4, 2021 at the Marriott Center in Provo.

Tegan Graham during a BYU women's basketball game, Nov.r 4, 2021 at the Marriott Center in Provo. (Rebeca Fuentes, BYU Photo)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

PROVO β€” Another BYU basketball team is knocking on the door of the Top 25.

Shaylee Gonzales poured in 20 points, six rebounds and two assists, and the Cougars drained seven 3-pointers to rally past No. 22 West Virginia 58-57 in the championship game of the St. Pete Showcase for their second win over a ranked opponent in three days at Eckard College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Paisley Harding added 13 points for the Cougars, who improved to 7-0 with their second-straight victory over an opponent ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Tegan Graham supplied 11 points, three assists and two rebounds for BYU.

Similar to BYU's win over No. 17 Florida State on Thanksgiving, the Cougars forced 23 turnovers and turned them into 24 points while outrebounding the Mountaineers 34-26. Lauren Gustin led all rebounders with eight boards, to go along with 7 points, three assists and two steals; and Maria Albiero had a game-high five assists for the Cougars, who improved to 3-0 under acting head coach Lee Cummard.

"The unsung hero of this tourney was Maria," Cummard said. "She has poise and ability to run this team and help keep everyone calm and locked in. Her defense never goes unnoticed to our staff. I am glad she is on our team."

Down 37-29 at halftime, Gonzales paced a 14-3 run in the third quarter to take a 45-44 edge into the final frame. The Cougars held West Virginia to just three field goals in the third, getting 8 points from Gonzales on 3-of-4 shooting and 6 points from Harding while owning the boards 12-9 thanks to Gustin's five.

The Mountaineers briefly retook the lead to open the fourth quarter. But Gonzales scored 8 points in the final period, including a pair of free throws with three seconds left, to hold on for the win.

"I am so impressed with the grit and toughness of this group," Cummard said. "Their belief in the game plan and in each other never wavered throughout. It was a total team effort this week and the outcomes showed it."

Esmery Martinez led West Virginia with 18 points and six rebounds, and Kirsten Deans supplied 17 points, six boards and three assists for the Mountaineers (4-1), who shot just 33% from the field in the second half and had just five assists with 12 turnovers.

The Cougars are one of just nine schools nationally undefeated in both men's and women's basketball, a list that also includes Arizona (11-0), Colorado State (11-0), Duke (12-0), Iowa State (11-0), Iowa (10-0), Texas Tech (10-0), Wake Forest (12-0) and Washington State (9-0).

The BYU women are 7-0 for the first time since 2011, when they started 9-0 en route to a 28-7 record and a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

BYU returns home Dec. 4 for a road tip at in-state rival Utah. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT in the Huntsman Center in the first of four remaining nonconference games that includes road trips to Oklahoma and Montana State, as well as a home date with Washington State.

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