By Aimee H. Hansen, ‘02
WORK, sweat, disappointing losses, unexpected upsets, and sweet victories were all part of BYU‘s 2001–02 women’s basketball season. The team, coached by first-year head coach Jeff R. Judkins, finished the regular season third in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) with a 10-4 record. The Cougars went on to become the first No. 3 seed to ever win the MWC Championship. “We’re very happy; this is something we’ve wanted and worked hard for all year,” Judkins said after winning the tournament. “We knew if we could be playing our best ball at this time we had a chance.”
Becoming the MWC champions earned BYU its fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament, this time in Ames, Iowa. In the first round of the tournament, a united effort led by the 28-point performance of All-American Erin L. Thorn, ’03, lifted No. 11–seed BYU to a huge 90-52 upset victory over No. 6 Florida. The Cougars then went up against No. 3 Iowa State and earned another dramatic victory, 75-69, advancing into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time ever.
Unfortunately, the No. 2–seed Tennessee Volunteers put a stop to the Cougars’ eight-game winning streak and their chances to advance to the Elite Eight. But BYUhad improved its NCAA tournament record from 0-4 to 2-5 and ended the year with a 24-9 overall record.