Cougars fend off scrappy New Orleans team to win 86-61

There’s more than one way to win a basketball game. On Wednesday night the Cougars tied a program record with 18 made 3’s and shot 46 percent from behind the arc. On Thursday, BYU scraped out an ugly 86-61 win against the New Orleans Privateers thanks to 18 offensive rebounds and 26 second-chance points.

The Privateers played an aggressive, physical style of defense and stymied the Cougars offense early on. A cold streak from behind the 3-point line to start the game didn’t help BYU. Senior guard Alex Barcello started out going 0-of-3 from the field.

Richard Harward set the tone in the paint for the Cougars and was unafraid to match the physical intensity of New Orleans. Harward and Gavin Baxter had put-back slam dunks on back-to-back possessions midway through the first half to. After the game, Harward said that head coach Mark Pope had prepared the team for the physicality of the Privateers and the team was able to adjust well on the fly.

“I think in games like this you need to play with a lot of force,” said forward Connor Harding. “When they’re playing aggressive, we have got to match that aggression and make plays for our teammates.”

Pope repeatedly referred to the game as a “frustrating” contest but was pleased with the way his team handled the adversity.

“This game of basketball can be so frustrating,” he said. “It was just a mountain of frustration. What you’re competing against is frustration.”

Pope said the offensive rebound needs to continue to be a focal point of this team, especially when the Cougars struggle to find the bottom of the net. Freshman forward Caleb Lohner provided the necessary spark off the bench as he tallied eight total rebounds in the first half.

“I feel like everyone was hitting the boards,” said Harward. “Caleb Lohner is an absolute monster. We’re such a threat all the way around because we have so many guys with the athleticism to go get the rebound.”

BYU was without center Matt Haarms for the second game in a row and became even more shorthanded after Gavin Baxter left the game in the first half with an injury. Baxter was helped off the court and didn’t return to the bench in the second half.

By the end of the first half, BYU managed to get into a bit of a groove and they carried that confidence into the second half. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to cruise to victory.

Trevin Knell was basically perfect in limited time off the bench; he scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting and added two steals, two assists and a blocked shot. Knell got a lot of praise for his performance from his head coach following the game.

“I’m super proud of him,” Pope said. “When it’s all said and done he’s going to become a great shooter, but Trev is not building his game on his shot, he’s building his game on having a complete game where he can contribute to everything.”

Harward led the team in rebounds with 10 and Lohner added nine boards before fouling out late in the second half.

Barcello led the team in points with 19. Five Cougars finished with double digits in points — Barcello (19), Harding and Kolby Lee (12), and Harward and Brandon Averette (11).

Pope said he is still not certain when Haarms will be available to play, although he plans to have Haarms participate in practice on Friday. The extent of Baxter’s injury is unknown.

The Cougars play host to the Utah Valley Wolverines in the UCCU Crosstown Clash on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

Written by Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Bridger is a student at Utah Valley University where he studies journalism and mass communication. He is the sports editor of the on-campus newspaper, The Review. Bridger is a life-long Cougar fan and college football enthusiast.

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