Cougars storm back to hand San Francisco first home loss of the season
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Alex Barcello and the Cougars handed the San Francisco Dons their first home loss of the season with a 71-69 come-from-behind-win at War Memorial Gymnasium Saturday night.
After trailing for 32 minutes of game time, the Cougars finished on a 10-3 run to escape San Francisco with a win. Since Mark Pope became the head coach of the Cougars in 2019, BYU has gone 78-straight games without losing back-to-back regular season games.
"This win was super important. It's a Quad 1 win against a great San Francisco team," said head coach Mark Pope. "It's always been a challenge to play here especially with how good their backcourt is. It's a huge win for our team."
The Cougars shot 43.1 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from behind the arc and 77.8 percent from the line in their comeback victory over the Dons.
Barcello led the Cougars with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting. He made 3-of-8 attempts from three-point land, 3-for-4 from the charity stripe while also tallying seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Fousseyni Traore scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and had an assist in the win. Caleb Lohner scored timely buckets down the stretch to give him eight points on 4-for-9 shooting, five rebounds and a block to help the Cougars pull off the come-from-behind win.
Aside from Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas who recorded 18 and 12 points respectively, all seven other Cougars that saw action tonight scored at least one basket.
Barcello opened the scoring for the Cougars with a runner in the lane with 17:57 left in the first half. BYU went the next 4:08 scoreless while San Francisco went on a 6-0 run before Barcello ended the scoring drought.
Points were at a premium on both sides of the court as the Dons had a near 4-minute scoring drought of their own. Gideon George and Seneca Knight hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cougars a 10-8 lead with 10:03 to go in the opening half.
After USF scored seven straight points to take a five-point lead, a block by Atiki Ally Atiki and a transition triple from Trevin Knell cut the Dons lead to two. The Dons and Cougars traded baskets until BYU retook the lead after scoring seven straight points courtesy of a Barcello three and back-to-back dunks by Traore with 3:58 left.
After two fouls on the Cougars in the last 23 seconds which resulted in three San Francisco points and stretched the lead to four, Barcello got the Cougars within one going into the half with a pull-up three with four seconds left.
The Dons jumped on the Cougars scoring six points in the first 1:47 to take a seven-point lead. Lohner stopped the USF run with a jumper with 17:53 left for the Cougars first points of the half.
After Traore made a nifty layup to cut the lead to five, a technical foul was called on the BYU’s bench which gave USF two free-throws to negate the BYU score.
Knight was fouled with 12:41 left in the second half to send the Cougars to the line for the first time in the game. The Dons at that point were 17-19 from the charity stripe. Knight made both to cut the lead to six before a Dons’ three pointer stretched it back to nine.
The USF lead was again cut to six with Barcello’s first points of the half on a deep, top-of-the-key three. On the next BYU possession Lucas was fouled on the way to the basket and made both to whittle the Don’s lead to four with 10:02 to play.
Barcello was sent to the line with 8:28 to play and knocked down two free throws to cut the lead to four before the Cougars got back-to-back buckets from Knell and Lohner to draw even with 7:17 left in the half.
The Dons scored five straight to take the lead before George hit his second three of the night to again slice the Dons’ lead. After a USF basket, Barcello hit a tough baseline runner to draw within two with 3:26 left.
The Cougars drew within one with 2:13 left on a toughly contested layup by Lohner. Lucas was fouled after grabbing a big rebound and made both free throws to give the Cougars their first lead since the 2:58 mark of the first half.
Another cutting layup by Lohner off a Barcello assist gave BYU a three-point lead with 56-second to play. USF countered with a strong drive to the basket to cut the lead to one on their next possession.
Barcello put up a step-back jumper from the left elbow that rimmed out with 21-seconds left, but Lohner grabbed the offensive rebound and threw an outlet pass to Lucas who was fouled and made both free-throws to give the Cougars a three-point advantage with 13-seconds to play.
After two USF free-throws cut it to one with eight seconds to go, Barcello took the inbounds pass, was fouled and knocked down one-of-two from the line to put the Cougars up two with six seconds to play.
The Dons put up a three with time expiring that went off the front rim and out giving the Cougars a 71-69 win and handing San Francisco their first home loss since February 18, 2021.
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