4500 West Tropicana Avenue Las Vegas NV 89103
BYU advances to UCU WCC tournament semifinal with 73-63 win over LMU
LAS VEGAS – BYU men’s basketball’s run through the 2023 University Credit Union West Coast Conference tournament will continue into next week after the Cougars defeated Loyola Marymount 73-63 Saturday night.
“I am really happy for our guys. It was the definition of a gritty win,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “We got outrebounded, only had eight assists and committed 15 turnovers, but our guys were tough. They hung on defensively to do enough to win.”
Rudi Williams led the Cougars in scoring for the eighth time this season as the senior finished with 23 points en route to eclipsing 2,000 points for his collegiate career. Spencer Johnson had 14 and Jaxson Robinson contributed 13 to go along with a career-high eight rebounds.
Atiki Ally Atiki played a season-high 24 minutes off the bench finishing with two points, six rebounds and three blocks.
As a team the Cougars shot 52.4 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from 3-point range. They were also solid from the free throw line, going 21-of-26.
The Cougars made their first six field goals and went on a 12-0 run in the game’s opening minutes to start out with a 14-4 lead. The Lions were held to just two baskets in ten attempts while committing four turnovers during the stretch. Their last giveaway was a steal by Robinson, who proceeded to convert a fast-break dunk on the other end at the 14-minute mark.
A three-minute BYU scoreless drought later allowed the Lions to slowly chip away at the lead and get as close as three. But three-pointers from Robinson and Williams put the Cougars back up 26-19. LMU refused to go away, however, converting four free throws and a three to tie the game at 26 with three minutes to go before the break.
BYU responded by ending the half on a 12-1 run. Dallin Hall had two buckets from beyond the arc, including a deep shot as time expired to give his side a 38-27 lead at the break. The Cougars made six threes in the first half and shot 68.4 percent from the field, the team’s second-best mark this season.
LMU fought back again to open the second half, with a 9-0 run cutting the BYU lead to 42-38. Gideon George and Saunders stopped the initial run with baskets inside before five points from Johnson and four free throws between Williams and Fousseyni Traore put BYU ahead by double digits again.
BYU would successfully keep LMU at arm’s length for the rest of the game. Johnson had 10 second half points, including five-straight to see the score to 64-52 at the 4:30 mark. Williams also had a strong second period, scoring 13. Several of those points came after driving to the rim, including a layup for an 11-point lead with three minutes to go.
Williams was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line down the stretch to help the Cougars see out the rest of the game. His last two with a minute left were also the final points of the game, bringing BYU to the 73-63 victory.
The Cougars will now play top-seeded Saint Mary’s on Monday, March 6, in the UCU WCC tournament semifinal round. That game starts at 6:00 p.m. PST and will be live on ESPN and BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, BYURadio.org/BYU Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
BYU continues postseason play, face Loyola Marymount on Saturday
LAS VEGAS – With its comeback victory over Portland on Friday evening, BYU advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2023 University Credit Union West Coast Conference tournament where the Cougars will face Loyola Marymount on Saturday, March 4, at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST.
Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on ESPN2. 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 (18-14, 7-9 WCC)
- BYU erased a 13-point halftime deficit in the opening five minutes of the second half in its 82-71 victory over Portland in the second round of the WCC tournament on Friday evening.
- Richie Saunders scored a career-high 18 points in the Cougars win over the Pilots, going 5-of-10 from the field, 3-of-6 from three and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. The freshman also pulled down a career-high five offensive rebounds.
- Fousseyni Traore has scored in double figures in a career-best 10 consecutive games after going for 14 points and nine rebounds against the Pilots. He also had five offensive rebounds on Friday, giving him 180 for his career which are the 14th most all-time in program history.
Head Coach – Mark Pope
- Alma Mater: Kentucky, 1996
- Division I Career Record: 166-96 (8th Season)
- Record at BYU: 85-40 (4th Season)
Loyola Marymount Notes (19-11, 9-7 WCC)
- Loyola Marymount earned the No. 4 seed in the UCU WCC tournament after going 19-11 overall and 9-7 in league play which included wins over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU.
- The Lions ranks 22nd in the nation in 3-pointers per game and 30th in 3-point attempts per game (25.5/game).
- First team All-WCC performer Cam Shelton has been on a tear for the Lions as the senior guard is averaging 30.8 points per contest over his past five games, shooting 52.0 percent from the field, 48.6 percent from three and 80.5 percent from the free throw line.
Head Coach – Stan Johnson
- Alma Mater: Southern Utah, 2003
- Division I Career Record: 43-38(3rd Season)
- Series Record: BYU leads 23-6
- Last Meeting: BYU won, 89-61 (2/2/23)
- H/A/N: 11-2/9-4/3-0
- TV: ESPN2
- TV Talent: Dave Flemming, Sean Farnham
- Streamed Audio: BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, KSL 102.7/1160 AM, BYURadio.org, BYU Radio app
- Radio Talent: Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant
- Live stats: BYUCougars.com