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BYU grabs first NCAA Tourney win in four years

DENVER (AP) -- Ambrosia Anderson feels like she has a homecourt
advantage every time she plays in the Mile High City.

The Brigham Young senior competes here every year in the
Mountain West Conference tournament and participated in a handful
of games in Denver when she was a high school player in nearby
Colorado Springs.

On Saturday, she shot herself into one last opportunity to play
in her home state.

Anderson scored 20 points and BYU used its post play early to
open up the perimeter to help the Cougars win their first NCAA
tournament game in four years with a 67-62 victory over Iowa in the
first round of the San Antonio Regional.

"I like the rims here and am used to the court," Anderson
said. "I feel so comfortable here, more than most places."

Anderson's final game in Denver will come Monday when the
seventh-seeded Cougars (26-5) play No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the
second round.

Getting that chance wasn't easy.

BYU centers Dani Kubik and Lauren Riley played in foul trouble
most of the first half, and fouled out in the second during a 9-0
run by Iowa (17-12) that cut the Cougars lead to 54-47.

Anderson ended the spurt when she fought for a pass down low and
kicked it out to Melinda Johnsen, who hit a 3-pointer from the left
side to give BYU a 57-47 advantage with just under five minutes left.

Mallary Gillespie added another 3-pointer, BYU's seventh of the
half, a minute later. The Cougars finished 10-of-23 from behind the
arc.

"When Riley went out and they had both their centers out,
that's when I really thought it was our time," said Iowa coach
Lisa Bluder. "Then they hit all those 3-pointers."

But the Hawkeyes refused to go away.

Iowa took advantage of BYU's vulnerable interior defense,
cutting the Cougars lead to three on two free throws by Smith with
32.5 seconds left. Then Johnsen missed a free throw at the other
end.

Iowa managed to get the ball to Smith, who had her 3-pointer
blocked by Gillespie. Anderson was then fouled with 10.9 seconds
remaining, but she missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Abby Emmert was fouled at the other end, but she, too, missed
her free throws before Anderson sealed it with a pair of shots from
the line.

"The first (free throw) I went back to my habit of shooting a
jumper," Anderson said. "The second ones I was lucky to get two
and get them right."

Megan Skouby led 10th-seeded Iowa (17-12) with 19 points, and
Crystal Smith added 17.

"We gave a great effort, but it didn't turn out how we
wanted," said Skouby, a 6-foot-6 freshman who was responsible for
drawing the fouls that took Kubik and Riley out of the game.

Anderson, the co-player of the year in the Mountain West
Conference, hit a baseline jumper that gave BYU a 54-40 lead with
about 8 minutes left, breaking into a smile as she ran back down
the court.

The celebration may have been a bit premature, but she made some
big plays down the stretch and finished 7-of-21 from the field with
nine rebounds to give the Cougars their school-record 26th victory.

BYU worked the ball inside to take a 30-25 halftime lead, which
opened up the perimeter in the second half.

Anderson, Johnsen, Jennie Keele and Vanessa Hutson had two
3-pointers apiece for BYU.

"I thought a lot of players contributed to our win," BYU coach
Jeff Judkins said. "Vanessa's 3-pointers, Johnsen's 3-pointers and
Brosia making big baskets when we needed them. Everyone really
contributed."

The Hawkeyes, who received the fifth and final bid from the Big
10, fell to 7-2 in first-round games and are 16-16 in tournament
history.

BYU advanced exactly one week after being routed 84-60 by Utah
in the Mountain West Conference title game in Denver.