Paisley Harding Continues To Prove She Is BYU’s Toughest Player

Feb 9, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: 6:45 pm

Paisley Harding - BYU Women's Basketball...

BYU Women's Basketball guard Paisley Harding is one of the toughest players to come through the program. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – During BYU’s comeback win over Gonzaga last Saturday, super senior guard Paisley Harding took a knee to the face. That hit caused her to get stitches in the first half, but she returned to help lead a comeback for BYU over their biggest WCC rival.

Harding (née Johnson) scored a game-high 22 points in the win that put 20th ranked BYU in the driver’s seat for the West Coast Conference title.


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A post shared by Paisley Harding (@paisleynikelle)

“Paisley at the time of the [Gonzaga] game, was playing the best. When they were laying on the ground, I was going, ‘Please, don’t be Paisley.’ Because she was the one that was playing the best for us,” said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “But I’ve never had a player that has come off and played like that, being smacked and hit. Paisley is definitely the toughest player in this league, but she could be one of the toughest players at BYU. Period. Including everybody.”

Playing through injuries is common for the BYU Women’s Basketball star

Playing through injuries isn’t new to the 5-foot-9 guard from Everett, Washington. Last season, during BYU’s run to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, Johnson was playing in the Big Dance with a broken hand. BYU lost to eventual National Runner-Up Arizona 52-46. Had Harding been fully healthy, maybe it’s BYU, not Arizona, in the Final Four last season. Regardless, if Harding can play, she is going to find a way to get back on the floor to help her teammates.

She’s definitely making her impact felt again this season. In her fifth and final year at BYU, Harding is averaging a career-best 16.6 points per game while also pulling down 3.0 rebounds and dishing out 2.4 assists.

On the flight back home after the Gonzaga win, Harding had some fun showing the battle scars to her 61,000 followers on TikTok.

@paisleynikelle13 Flying out of Spokane with a dub 💋 #season #bruised #winners ♬ original sound – Vanessa 🦋

How Paisley Harding returned to play after getting stitches

Harding expects to have the stitches out after Saturday’s game against Saint Mary’s, gave a breakdown of what exactly took place and how she was able to come back from the stitches.

“I had gone in for a right-handed floater in the middle of the key and I missed it, right off the front of the rim. Then it fell to the ground. And one of the Gonzaga players was trying to get possession of it, so I dove after it. Then Sara [Hamson] was also going for it as well. But, my face went right into Sara’s knee. And immediately, it started gushing. It didn’t hurt; I didn’t know right away until one of the Gonzaga girls said, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s so much blood.’ And I was like, ‘Great. Now I have blood on my face. Cool.’ But I looked down and there was blood dripping down from my face onto the court.

“They walked me off the court, I went into the locker room and the Gonzaga doctor stitched me up, put numbing stuff on me, a couple of strips on my face to try and keep the stitches closed, a band-aid, and put me back out there. When I first came in, I was like, Jeff [Judkins], ‘Am I still going to be able to play? I can still play, right?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, you can still play.’ Then the girls came in during halftime, kind of fired up because they were like, ‘We’re not playing good; we need to get better rebounds.’ I just loved it, so I inserted myself and screamed back at them, ‘Let’s go, ladies! Let’s go!’ Then I got stitched up really fast and went out and played.”

That toughness from Harding has played a significant role in BYU jumping out to one of the best starts in program history. BYU is currently 19-2 overall on the season and isn’t shy about having big goals for the postseason this March. Back in the preseason, some players even brought up the Final Four. But, of course, making a March Madness run helps to have a tough-minded star in Harding.

“She plays like she does all the time for me,” said Judkins. “So when she moves up it a notch, a lot of people think, ‘Oh, she’s gotten so much better.’ But that’s how she’s played all year.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Paisley Harding Continues To Prove She Is BYU’s Toughest Player