BYU Closes Out Non-Conference Play With Victory Over Westminster

Dec 29, 2021, 8:45 PM
BYU Basketball - Fousseyni Traore - Westminster...
Brigham Young Cougars forward Fousseyni Traore (45) blocks Westminster Griffins guard Taylor Miller (3) as BYU and Westminister play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, UtahΒ – BYU basketball closes out the non-conference portion of their 2021-22 schedule with a 65-53 victory over Division II Westminster.

The win improves BYU’s record to 12-3 overall on the season as they now set their sights on WCC play.

BYU was without Spencer Johnson and Seneca Knight due to an illness. Knight, a transfer from LSU, was seen on the bench with a mask on while wearing street clothes. Johnson was not seen in the arena on Wednesday night.

The Griffins were short-handed, too as they played without their best player in Yusuf Mohamed, a transfer from Tennessee State.

BYU started hot, but Westminster hung around

For the first time this season, BYU opened a game with a three-pointer as Trevin Knell got the scoring started. Then Alex Barcello buried a three on the following possession to give BYU a quick 6-0 lead.

Coming into the game, Mark Pope warned that in-state games are always a fight. “You could be 22 and your younger brother could be 17, but you better bring it. Because that’s how these games are.”

That’s what Westminster did in the first half. Despite jumping out to the quick lead, BYU could never entirely run away from the Griffins. Westminster hit four three-pointers to go into the halftime locker room down by only five points, 29-24.

Through the first 20 minutes, Gideon George led the way for BYU with 11 points. Nine of George’s 11 points were from three-pointers. George also pulled down a first-half high five rebounds in 12 minutes of action to go along with his scoring.

BYU basketball pulls away in the second half

BYU pulled away in the second half getting the lead back to double-figures just under the 16-minute mark. From there, BYU never looked back in front of an impressive crowd of 15,808 fans.

It was a breakout performance for sophomore guard Hunter Erickson. The former Timpview High standout earned a career-high for minutes played (27) and as a result, a career-high in points (10) too.

The 6-foot-3, 191-pound guard reached double-figures in scoring for the first time in his career and one of his buckets was a fastbreak slam dunk that had the Cougar faithful roaring as he showed off his high-flying ability.

Alex Barcello checked out of the game at the 7:35 mark of the victory. The super senior guard finished the night with nine points, five rebounds, and five assists. Barcello is now eight points away from becoming the 52nd player in BYU basketball history to reach the 1,000-point club in his career.

After the final media timeout, Mark Pope gave some run to an all-youngster lineup in guards Erickson, Nate Hansen, Trey Stewart, Casey Brown, and big man Atiki Ally Atiki to close out the contest. The Griffins finished the game on an 8-2 run.

Next Up

BYU was supposed to open the WCC portion of its schedule against the Portland Pilots, but with UP on pause due to COVID-19, the Cougars’ next game will come on Thursday, January 6 against Pacific at the Marriott Center. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on BYUtv.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter:Β @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Closes Out Non-Conference Play With Victory Over Westminster