Cougars prevail with defense in 65-54 win over Pepperdine

The Cougars defeated the Pepperdine Waves 65-54 to improve to 13-3 on the season and 4-1 in WCC play on Saturday night. In a game where shot-making came at a premium, it was the Cougars’ defense that yet again helped them prevail.

First Half

Trevin Knell got out to a hot start shooting the ball as the sophomore knocked down two looks from behind the arc in the first four minutes of the game. As the game progressed, however, both teams struggled to score as the Cougars and Waves combined for three points in a four-minute stretch that included three BYU turnovers and a poor 1-for-11 shooting stretch by Pepperdine. Despite the shooting struggles by both teams, BYU’s Brandon Averette seemed to be immune from the shooting woes as the Cougar guard had nine points in the game’s first nine minutes.

The Cougars led 20-12 at the half’s midway point before the scoring pace slowed to a drunken snail’s crawl. The two teams combined for one made basket from the 9:00 minute-mark to the 3:55 mark. Both teams’ suffocating defense led to very few points and even a chipped tooth for Alex Barcello – the result of a flagrant foul on Pepperdine’s Kendall Munson. In all, the Waves shot a measly 22% from the field in the first half and made more free throws (10) than field goals (7).

Averette led the way for all scorers in the first half with 13 points in 14 minutes for the Cougars. However, the senior also picked up three fouls. Averette’s backcourt teammate Alex Barcello also picked up three fouls in a first half that featured 22 foul calls and 24 free throw attempts.

Trevin Knell added 9 points for BYU, while Colbey Ross added 11 points for the Waves as the Cougars led at the break 37-26.

Second Half

The second half opened with Matt Haarms’ first points of the game after failing to attempt a shot in the first 20 minutes of play. Coming off of a 9-9 shooting performance vs. Portland, Haarms was held to 6 points on only six attempts against the Waves. The Cougars got out to a 15 point lead at the 15:06 mark thanks to a 6-0 run, but the Waves soon followed that up with a 15-2 run of their own to cut the BYU lead to three with 3:02 remaining.

It was Alex Barcello’s first points of the game – a pair of free throws – followed by a clutch turnaround jumper by Haarms that helped put a stop to the Pepperdine run and give the Cougars a 63-54 lead entering the final minute. The Cougars ultimately held Pepperdine scoreless for the final 4:50 en route to a 65-54 victory over the Pepperdine Waves to improve to 13-3 on the season and 4-1 in West Coast Conference play.

Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross led all scorers with 21 points while Kessler Edwards added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Waves. For the Cougars, Brandon Averette led the way with 15 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. Trevin Knell added 12 points of his own with four made threes, Matt Haarms tied a season-high with 4 blocks on the defensive end and Connor Harding recorded a career-high 10 reboubnds.

Player of the Game

Matt Haarms made a late push to earn player of the game with a clutch turnaround jumper with the shot clock winding down in the final minutes but ultimately it was Brandon Averette who impressed the most in the win.

Averette set the tone early in the game with 13 points in the first half. While his scoring production dipped in the second half – just 2 points in 11 minutes, he found other ways to impact the game, adding 3 rebounds and 2 assists down the stretch. Finishing with 15 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds and a team-high plus/minus of +19, Brandon Averette is the player of the game.

Next up for the Cougars, they face this same Pepperdine team on the road on Wednesday, January 27 with tip-off set for 1 PM MST.

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