On Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the John W. Hart gymnasium, the Spartans and Bruins went head-to-head at the women’s basketball championship.
The teams met previously in the season, with the Bruins winning by a three-point margin. The Spartans pulled off a convincing win in the semifinals to get to the big game, beating the Vikings by 17 points.
The game tipped off and the Spartans started with fast-paced basketball right away. A three from point guard Kinley Brown forced the first timeout of the game. The Spartans were up 8-5.
After the timeout, the Spartans kept up the pace and the Bruins struggled on offense, resulting in the first quarter ending with the Spartans up 26-10.
The second quarter proved to be more of the same. The Spartans played very aggressively and continued to hit tough shots. The Bruins called a timeout, down 32-18.
Later in the quarter, a corner 3-pointer from Hayley Naef put the lead at 51-20. The Spartans came up with several big blocks in this run and their offense stayed consistent, which proved to be the difference in the first half.
A half-court effort from the Bruins clanged off the backboard and the two teams headed into the huddle to strategize for the second half, with the Spartans up 54-23.
In the third quarter, the Spartans continued to outwork and outshoot their opponents, missing only one three of the six shots attempted in the quarter.
Perhaps the highlight of the quarter came at the last minute. A block led to a fast break for the Spartans, and point guard Brown carried the ball up the court before dishing a behind-the-back pass to her teammate Samantha Merrell. The quarter ended with the Spartans in complete control, 69-40.
“That quarter was huge for us,” said James Sadler, Spartans’ coach. “Every one of my girls did their jobs and we all just worked as hard as we could. The third quarter was really important for us to win this thing.”
In the fourth quarter, the Spartans tried to kill the clock and outsee the game. They played passive defense and scored free throws when the Bruins were forced to foul. The Spartans went up 80-56 before calling a timeout with just under a minute left in the game. That is when they decided it was safe to put in Lilly Richins.
While Richins had not played this game due to an injury, she accompanied her teammates into the game with a knee brace wrapped tightly around her right leg. The Spartans coach put her in and she was there for offense only. When the ball got to her she took her first shot of the game and made it. The Spartans bench erupted with celebration and the coach took her immediately back out of the game after she had hit her shot.
The Spartans saw out the rest of the match and were eventually crowned champions.
The girls celebrated and embraced each other before the game MVP was decided. Kenna Pitcher was declared the game MVP, with 25 points and 11 assists.
“I am just happy me and my ladies won,” Pitcher said. “We all knew we could do it and I’m glad we showed it. Now to celebrate with some pizza tonight.”
For more information on the upcoming spring session sports or any other athletic programs, visit BYU-I Campus Recreation’s website.