Seasiders defense douses Sunbirds hot shooting in second half

Seasiders defense douses Sunbirds hot shooting in second half

FRESNO, Calif. – Senior guard Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo used a big second half to lead BYU-Hawaii women's basketball over Fresno Pacific 66-57 for its sixth-consecutive victory.

Tatupu-Leopoldo scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half to go with three assists. Sophomore forward Mata Tonga had the best game of her career with new highs of 12 points and 14 rebounds in her first collegiate double-double. Sophomore guard Marquessa Gilson continued her strong play with 15 points and four rebounds. Junior point guard Celeste Claw added a game-high 10 assists to go with seven points.

The Seasiders (11-5, 8-2 PacWest) shot 42.2 percent from the field, while holding the Sunbirds (2-12, 2-7 PacWest) to 36.2 percent shooting. BYU-Hawaii also outrebounded Fresno Pacific by 16 and outscored the Sunbirds in the paint 32-20. The six-game win streak is tied for the second longest in program history and one shy of the longest win streak.

BYU-Hawaii trailed for all but 30 seconds of the first half and eight minutes of the second, but the Seasiders retook the lead at 42-40 when Emily Nelson kicked it out to Tatupu-Leopoldo for a 3-pointer at the top of the arc. Nelson then added to the lead on the next possession with a short jumper off a laser pass by Megan Goodman to cap the 7-0 run. BYU-Hawaii did not relinquish its advantage for the remainder of the game.

Fresno Pacific jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the opening minutes connecting on three 3-point attempts. Tatupu-Leopoldo hit a 3-pointer to spark the Seasiders on a small 7-3 run to draw back within four with 13 minutes remaining in the half. Fresno Pacific responded again with two more shots behind the arc during an 8-2 run to push their lead to 10 with 10:48 on the clock.

Gilson scored six points during an 8-2 run for the Seasiders to close the Sunbirds' lead to 25-21 with 8:03 left in the half. Claw hit a 3-pointer from deep in the corner and a buzzer-beating jumper to cap a 10-2 run and tie the game at 31-31 with 1:20 remaining, but another make from distance by Fresno Pacific seconds later gave it a 34-31 lead over BYU-Hawaii going into the break.

Gilson led the Seasiders with 10 points going into the break, while the Sunbirds leading scorer for the season, Jenay Herring, entered the half with four fouls.

A skyhook by Emily Nelson and another layup by Gilson cut Fresno Pacific's lead to 36-35 early in the second half as the teams continued to trade baskets for the first eight minutes.

Tatupu-Leopoldo hit a shot behind the arc and laid it up and in to cap a 12-0 run that gave BYU-Hawaii the 58-45 lead with 7:33 left in the game. The defenses tightened up over the next four minutes with Fresno Pacific hitting the only two shots to pull back within nine points with 3:40 remaining, but it was too late as the teams traded points the rest of the way.

BYU-Hawaii will finish their road trip in San Francisco on Saturday to take on Academy of Art at 5:30 p.m. PST. Live stats and video will be available online.

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