Stifling defense late gives BYU a big 62-52 win at St. Mary's
MORAGA, Calif. — BYU men's basketball won for the first time at St. Mary's since 2014 Thursday night in a 62-52 effort. The Cougars ended the game on a dominant 17-2 run, holding the Gaels scoreless for nearly a 10-minute stretch, to get their 10th win of the season and first West Coast Conference victory.
It was an important bounce-back victory for the Cougars who were coming off of a tough loss to Gonzaga. The win continues a stretch where BYU has never lost back-to-back games in the Mark Pope era.
“That's a credit to this team,” Pope said. “We talked about it post-USC, now we’re post-Gonzaga, in a super weird time for our team, after we went through some personal challenges, locker room challenges, over the last few days. That's beautiful kids, beautiful young men who at the end of the day, they’re deciding that they want to fight for each other. That’s how you manage that, is with great young men.”
BYU (10-3, 1-1) shot 44.6 percent from the field and only 10 percent from the three, but it was enough to stop Saint Mary’s (9-4, 0-2) in its tracks and secure the W.
Alex Barcello led all scorers with 14 points, shooting 60 percent from the field. Barcello also had two clutch steals and went two-for-two from the free throw line.
Brandon Averette was a difference maker in the game with nine points — all in the second half — to help turn the tide in BYU’s favor late.
“It was fun,” Averette said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew that we were going to need to keep fighting. They weren't going to go away, and neither were we. But, we knew what kind of game it was going to be coming in, and it was fun. Those are the kind of games you really live for, and that's why we love playing this game”.
Matt Haarms had nine points for BYU. Gideon George who came off the bench and had eight.
Trevin Knell made his first career start for the Cougars, replacing Connor Harding in the starting lineup. Knell had seven points and made some key defensive plays in the game. He played a team-high 32 minutes and was a team-high +16 in the game.
BYU started off a bit slow with the Gaels taking an early 5-0 lead. A layup by Kolby Lee gave BYU its first points of the game and a Knell three-point shot began the cougars counter attack on a 7-0 run to take the lead 13-9. BYU kept the lead up to 17-14, but that would be the last time the Cougars would lead until there was 4:33 left in the game.
Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half, but the Cougars and Gaels combined for 28 in the second half. BYU made some big free throws down the stretch and went 8-for-13 in the game.
The Cougars will continue conference play on the road against San Francisco on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on the BYU Sports Networks on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
BYU men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope announced Friday that Michael Davie has been named the men’s basketball…