By Ronald Weaver III
Provo, UT – The atmosphere in Provo, Utah Saturday night was electrifying as BYU took on St. Mary’s in it’s second West Coast Conference game of the season. The stadium was packed with fans minutes before tip-off.
The Cougars struggled in the first four minutes of the game missing their first four shots and also turning the ball over three times in two minutes that led to an early 7-0 run by the Gaels.
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” Mark Pope said in his postgame interview to describe what he told his team in a media timeout following the Gaels quick start.
The Cougars only trailed for the first six and a half minutes of the game and never looked back after that.
BYU ended it’s scoring drought with a 3-pointer from Trevin Knell. BYU’s center Atiki led the way on defense with 3 blocks. His defensive presence in the fist half led to Gaels turning the ball over 6 times, which led BYU to go on a 11-0 run of its own making the score 11-7.
The game was very physical as both teams only shot three free throws in the first half combined. Despite not getting to the free-throw line a lot, BYU still shot 43 percent in the first half & scored 28 points with 18 of them coming in the paint. Gideon George made a great no-look pass to Fouss Traore to score to beat the buzzer before half time, capping another 9-0 run for the cougars. Alex Barcello led all scores at the half with 8 as BYU led 28 to 16 at the half.
(Gideon George makes a no look pass to teammate Fousseyni Traore. Photo Courtesy of BYU Athletics and BYU Basketball)
BYU picked right back up where they left off with Te’Jon Lucas scoring a quick lay-up inside. Lucas finished the game and led all scorers with 10 points. BYU dominated the Gaels with 34 points in the paint on 39 percent shooting.
Although the Gaels out rebounded BYU 42-36, BYU out rebounded them in the second half 20 to 17. The Cougars strong rebounding in the second half led to 8 second chance points. Fouss Traore led all players with 11 rebounds ( 7 defensive, 4 offensive) and became the first freshman with double digits rebounds since Yoeli Childs.
BYU’s defense finished off the Gaels as they went 1 of 11 in the final two and half minutes of the second half.
With Saturday’s 52-43 win the Cougars improve their win streak to 4 in a row, remaining undefeated at home (8-0). BYU (14-3, WCC 2-0) is now in first place in the West Coast Conference.
BYU’s next home will be against San Diego on Thursday January 20th at 7:00pm MST.
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