Las Vegas, NV –
It was the hot shooting from Nani Falatea and that helped the No. 5 seed BYU Cougars defeat the No. 9 Pepperdine Waves 74-59 in the second round of the West Coast Conference on Friday afternoon at the Orleans Arena.
Falatea shot 40% from 3-point range as the Sophomore guard scored 23 points on 9-of-17 from the field dishing out seven assists and grabbing four rebounds.
“I got Emma and Lauren dominating inside. That really opens things up for me. When they do well everybody starts to collapse on them and it leaves things open for me. They set screens for me, so I have to give them a lot of credit.” were the words Falatea used to describe her offensive performance.
BYU put the game out of reach in the third quarter going on 15 to 2 run lead by Junior forward Lauren Gustin,
“By that third quarter we were settled in. We went at halftime to talk about the things we need to work on. Then, we came out with the mentality that we want to win, and have to keep a lead up. All gas out there.”
One of those seven dimes by Falatea found the West Coast Conference defensive player of the year Lauren Gustin. Gustin recorded her 26th double-double of the 2023 season. The double-double machine recorded 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting and grabbed 18 rebounds. Her 18 rebounds tied the WCC record for rebounds in a tournament.
Even Pepperdine starting forward Theresa Mbanefo gave the All-WCC First-Team and WCC defensive player of a year a compliment on her performance Friday afternoon.
“[Lauren] Gustin is great at capitalising off of defensive mistakes. She does her work early and that showed today. We didn’t have an answer for her.”
Against Pepperdine in their two meetings Gustin had 40 points and 36 rebounds.
The Cougars will now play the No. 4 seed San Francisco in the quarterfinal of the WCC tournament on Saturday March 4th at 1pm PST. The game will be broadcast on WCC network and BYUtv.