It was a tale of two halves for the CSUN women’s basketball team Saturday against the Brigham Young University Cougars. CSUN shot 55 percent in the first half and jumped out to a huge lead, but stumbled in the end, losing 76-59 in its season opener.
Jazelle Burries and Krisztina Fuleki each scored 11 points and Katie Holloway and LaJoyce King scored 10. But BYU got big games from Ambrosia Anderson, who scored 25 and Dani Kubik, who added 22.
“It wasn’t about the offense, but more about the defensive end,” said head coach Staci Schulz. “We came out trying to block shots and hacking at things instead of playing defense with our feet.”
Fuleki nailed a three pointer 10 seconds into the game for CSUN’s first points of the year. BYU got on the board shortly after on two Kubik free-throws and a three-pointer by Anderson with 19:11, giving BYU the 5-3 lead.
Holloway scored five straight points to put CSUN out in front 26-16 and Burries buried a jumper to add two more.
Free throws by Mallory Gillespie cut into the Matador lead, but baskets by senior Heather Cushing and King gave CSUN a 32-18 advantage, its largest of the half.
BYU free-throws from Kubik and Anderson got the lead back to 10, but Fuleki nailed another three-pointer with 31 seconds left to push the lead to 38-25 and CSUN eventually went into the half leading 40-26.
“I wasn’t comfortable, but they were,” said Schulz of the team’s first half lead. “We don’t have that great experience … It’s almost like I wish we didn’t have a halftime. We just would’ve kept going with this game.”
Burries started the second half with a 20-foot jumper to make it 42-26, but the rest of the half eventually belonged to BYU. The Cougars started its rally with an 8-0 run cutting the lead to single digits. Solid BYU play sparked a 14-4 run, tying the game at 50.
King hit a jumper with 9:18 to put CSUN back in front, but BYU went on a 16-1 run to go up 66-53. The Matadors went nearly six minutes without a point, but the damage was done, as the Cougars closed out the game on a 10-5 run, 76-59.
CSUN doubled its turnovers in the second half, giving the ball away 20 times, after just 10 in the first. CSUN also got out-rebounded 37-33, including a 24-14 disadvantage in the second half.
Despite the bad second half, CSUN still ended up with a better shooting percentage then BYU, at 44 percent compared to the Cougars 39 percent.
“I think we came out in the second half too comfortable and overconfident,” Jamie McCaa said. “We were up by such a large lead that it was going to go the same way. We didn’t come out ready to go like we did in the first half.”
Ivan Yeo can be reached at email@example.com.