Brigham Young University
Mar 03 | 06:00 PM
82 - 71
University of Portland
Mike Miller | Posted: 3 Mar 2023 | Updated: 29 May 2023
Mike Miller

BYU overcomes 13-point halftime deficit to defeat Portland, advance to UCU WCC tournament quarterfinals

Fousseyni Traore Portland 2022-23
Richie Saunders Fousseyni Traore Portland 2022-23 Jaxson Robinson Portland 2022-23 Bench Celebration Portland 2022-23
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LAS VEGAS – An offensive explosion in the second half erased a 13-point halftime deficit and led BYU men’s basketball to an 82-71 win in the 2023 University Credit Union West Coast Conference tournament Friday night.

“The guys were fantastic. They’ve been great all year at showing fight,” said BYU assistant coach Kahil Fennell. “Our guys really dug in and recognized what would help us win the game and then they went out and did it. We were the mentally tougher team.”



Richie Saunders led the Cougars in scoring for the first time in his career, finishing with a career-high 18 as BYU overcame its second largest halftime deficit during the Mark Pope era. Jaxson Robinson and Fousseyni Traore combined for 28 points, 26 of those coming in the second half. 

BYU outrebounded Portland 44-21 with 19 of BYU’s boards on the offensive end, including a career-high five from Saunders. 

Four made 3-pointers helped the Pilots go on an 11-0 run and lead 14-4 to start the game. The Cougars responded with a pair of 3-pointers from Saunders and Dallin Hall to cut the Portland lead to four eight minutes in.

Saunders continued to lead the scoring for BYU, adding two more shots from beyond the arc along with a pair of free throws to keep his side within striking distance. The Cougars trailed 27-24 with seven minutes remaining before Portland slowly expanded the lead to six at the four-minute mark.

A 13-1 run from the Pilots saw them go ahead by 14 with a minute remaining in the half before Tredyn Christensen secured an offensive rebound and made a layup plus the foul. BYU was scoreless for five minutes during the run, with the Cougars missing 12-straight field goals.

Portland took a 43-30 lead into halftime as the Pilots shot 51.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Saunders led the Cougars with 12 marking the first time in his career that the Riverton native has scored in double figures in the first half.

BYU started the second half on an 18-2 run to take the lead, 48-45, with two 3-pointers from Robinson. Spencer Johnson connected from deep as well and five different Cougars registered buckets during the stretch.

Five more points by Robinson gave him 11 in the first eight minutes of the half as BYU led 56-52. BYU’s fifth three in the second then came from Gideon George to expand the Cougar lead to nine.           

Portland would later get as close as four before Traore took over down the stretch. He had six points and five rebounds, including three offensive boards, in the final 5:37. Traore’s final points came on a dunk with a minute left and put BYU up 78-69. The Cougar defense held the Pilots without a field goal in the last four minutes and hit their free throws to close on a 10-2 run and win 82-71.

BYU scored 52 points in the second half on 56.3 percent shooting, connecting on 18 field goals. After nine turnovers in the first, the Cougars took care of the ball in the second with only three giveaways.

The Cougars will face against No. 4 seed Loyola Marymount in the quarterfinals of the UCU WCC tournament on Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m. PST. Watch BYU and LMU on ESPN2 or live on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.


Tyson Jex | Posted: 2 Mar 2023 | Updated: 29 May 2023
Tyson Jex

BYU opens UCU WCC tournament play on Friday evening against Portland

Spencer Johnson San Francisco 2022-23

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – BYU opens its final University Credit Union West Coast Conference tournament on Friday, March 3, when the Cougars face Portland at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST.

Friday’s contest will be broadcast on BYUTv. Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant will also be on the call on the BYU Sports Network on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143 and KSL 102.7/1160 AM.

BYU Notes (17-14, 7-9 WCC)

  • BYU earned the No. 5 seed for the WCC Tournament following a 87-61 victory over San Francisco in Rudi Williams and Gideon George final game at the Marriott Center.
  • Williams eclipsed 1,000 points for his Division 1 career in the win over the Dons as the senior finished with 21 points, going 15-of-16 from the free throw line.
  • Fousseyni Traore was one of three Cougars to pick up All-WCC honors as the sophomore was name to the second team after leading the Cougars in scoring and rebounding during the regular season.

Head Coach – Mark Pope

  • Alma Mater: Kentucky, 1996
  • Division I Career Record: 162-96 (8th Season)
  • Record at BYU:  85-40 (4th Season)

Portland Notes (14-18, 5-11 WCC)

  • No. 8 seed Portland advanced to Friday’s second round matchup against BYU following a 92-74 victory over San Diego where the Pilots hit a school and WCC tournament record 19 3-pointers.
  • Second team All-WCC performer Moses Wood was one of five Pilots in double figures as the junior finished with 19 points, going 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
  • Tyler Robertson recorded a double-double, finishing with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds to go along with six assists.

Head Coach – Shantay Legans

  • Alma Mater: Fresno State, 2004
  • Division I Career Record: 108-82 (6th Season)
  • Record at Portland: 33-33 (2nd Season)

Series Information

  • Series Record: BYU leads 26-2
  • Last Meeting: BYU won, 71-58 (12/31/22)
  • H/A/N: 15-0/10-2/1-0

Broadcast Information

  • TV: BYUtv
  • TV Talent: Spencer Linton, Blaine Fowler
  • Streamed Audio: BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, KSL 102.7/1160 AM,, BYU Radio app
  • Radio Talent: Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant
  • Live stats:
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