Las Vegas, NV –
BYU struggled early to get the ball rolling, but once it got rolling it rolled as the No. 5 seed BYU defeated the No. 8 Portland Pilots 82-71 Friday night in Las Vegas, NV at the Orleans Arena.
The Pilots were up 13 at the half, but saw the lead get mopped away as BYU went on 13-0 run in the second half, which would ultimately seal the victory for the Cougars as the Pilots never would regain the lead.
The BYU fans base erupted in the Orleans Arena after Jaxson Robinson and Spencer Johnson hit back-to-back 3 -pointers that forced Portland Head Coach Shantay Legans to call a timeout.
“Yeah it’s big time. It’s fun when they do the BYU Cougars chant. We’re in Vegas, and it’s still loud. I love being able to play in front of these incredible fans.” were the words Richie Saunders used postgame to describe the 13-0 run and momentum his team felt from the BYU fans.
Richie Saunders kept BYU in it in the first half with his 3-pointer shooting, scoring 12 points 3-of-4 3-pointers. The Freshman from Riverton, Utah would finish the game with 18 points tying his career high and leading BYU in bench points.
Jaxson Robinson sparked himself in the second half scoring all of his 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting adding three rebounds and four assists and was the main contributor in BYU’s run.
Fousseyni Traroe also added 14 points, two assists and nine rebounds. Five of those were offensive, which were very crucial that led to 18 second chance points for BYU.
“Coach is always talking about second chances. We always have to win and stay on the offensive glass, and I love it.” were the words by Traroe in the postgame on why rebounding is so important.
Next up, BYU will play No. 4 seed Loyola Marymount in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament Saturday March 4th at 7pm PST at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cougars defeated the Lions in their last meeting as WCC foes 89-61 in Provo, Utah at the Marriott Center.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 2, with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durant of the call on BYU Radio.