BYU basketball: Cougar teams get big blocks for a pair of wins

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04: Kelvin Amayo
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04: Kelvin Amayo /

 BYU basketball gave fans something to cheer about this weekend. The men’s team are now riding a five game winning streak after downing a feisty Weber State squad, and the women’s team broke their losing streak against the single-loss Utah Utes. Big blocks keyed both wins.

I had a good parting shot all lined up—something about how the Utes choked against a depleted women’s BYU basketball team. But Sara Hamson blocked it.

She’s been blocking everything in sight. Against Utah, Hamson tied with her older sister Jennifer for second most blocks in a game with nine. They are both still short of their mother, Tresa Spaulding Hamson, who holds the BYU record of 11.

But Sara is just a freshman this year. She still has time.

Down four players to injury, stung by a barrage of foul calls in the first half, and down by as many as nine points, the Cougars switched into a 2-3 zone just to stay alive. But it also turned out to be their salvation.

Because Hamson manning the paint made it into a place where inside buckets go to die.

Shots she didn’t block she altered, and by the end of the game, Utah had churned to a halt on their inside game. 6-foot-6 F Emily Potter, who had torn up the Cougars in the Utes’ win last year to the tune of 21 points on 9-of-14 from the field, was held to just 3 of 7 with Hamson in her way.

The freshman center completely dominated the senior forward. There was no reason to double team in the post, and no one for Potter to kick it out to for an open shot. When Hamson loomed over her, she either passed it out, hucked it up, or was stifled.

BYU started break away in the 4th quarter behind a career-high 36 points from Cassie Broadhead Devashrayee. Utah transfer Malia Nawahine added 13 and a whole lot of passion, and Brenna Chase hit clutch threes. She also had two all-out-sprint-and-leap swats to keep Utah 3-point shooters at bay.

Any win over a Utah team is sweet. But when on a four game losing streak, when the Utes have won six in a row, down in numbers and hobbled with fouls, to down your rival by nine points? Most excellent.

If you’re a Utah man, you better not tweet @byuwbb. You gonna get blocked.

Men’s team survives Weber State

In the final minute, leading only by two with Weber State in possession, BYU desperately needed a stop.

The Wildcats know a thing or two about playing with a short bench. They rolled into the Saturday night matchup with the Cougars missing two of their starting five. Seeing how locked in on defense BYU had been the last five games, it looked like Weber State was going to get strangled.

But that’s why you play the games.

The Wildcats hit a ton of tough, contested layups and floaters, mostly courtesy of Jerrick Harding. The wiley guard led his team with 29 points, most via double-clutch bankers.

As a result, the Cats matched the Cougs point for point, despite 24 from TJ Haws and a balanced attack (Bryant, Hardnett, Childs, and Seljiaas all hit double figures).

So when Weber drove to the basket for what looked like yet another contested miracle bucket, Yoeli rotated on help defense and blocked the Wildcats right out of the game.

Should the win have been this close? Maybe not. But we know there’s no such thing as an ugly win for the defensive, slow-paced Cougars. Really, the W is all people will remember.

That and something about Seljiaas’s hair.

And if it can teach them things they can shore up for their showdown with Utah on December 16th, it might prove to be the best kind of win BYU basketball could ask for.

The coming game represents an absolute linchpin in the BYU basketball’s pre-conference season schedule. Stay tuned for more on it this week.