BYU Earns Win In Scrappy Battle Against San Diego

Jan 20, 2022, 9:02 PM
BYU vs San Diego...
courtesy of BYU Photo

PROVO, Utah —Β BYU returned home to the Marriott Center on Thursday night, defeating San Diego 79-71. The Toreros challenged the Cougars, who faced a difficult three-game stretch in West Coast Conference play over the last few weeks. The conference continues to show it’s strength, as BYU needed all 40 minutes tonight to earn the victory.

It was a scrappy game throughout between the conference foes. BYU had four players score in double figures in a total team win. Led as always by senior guard Alex Barcello, Barcello had 22 points in the game despite shooting just 1-5 from three. Fousseyni Traore had another impressive outing, securing a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

BYU is off to their best start under Mark Pope, starting the season 16-4 through their first 20 games. The Cougars improved to 4-1 in conference play. San Diego goes to 3-2 in WCC play; they were led by Chase Townsend, who had 14 points in the game. The WCC is expected to compete for 3-4 bids in the NCAA Tournament in March.

Competitive Battle In First Half Between BYU & San Diego

San Diego got off to the hot start in the game, taking the early lead and finding success against the Cougar defense. Joey Calcaterra hit two early three’s to help the Toreros jump ahead. Calcaterra lead the team with eight first half points. San Diego shot 3-13 from deep in the half.

BYU had a nice offensive rhythm throughout the half. However, they didn’t have the shooting performance you would hope. They shot just 33% from the field in the first half. The Cougars consistently attacked down low, winning the battle at the rim with 10 points in the paint and a 25 to 17 advantage in rebounds.

Seneca Knight led the team with 12 points in the first half. Knight hit two big three’s and was best offensive weapon in the half. Fousseyni Traore added seven points, eight rebounds and a block. As a team, the Cougars were just 3-11 from deep in the first half.

The teams battled down the stretch, playing tough defense and struggling to extend a lead. Alex Barcello had a nasty move that had the ROC chanting “ankles” at #0 Bryce Monroe for the rest of the night. The teams were tied at the half, 31-31.

Shooting Improves For BYU In Second Half

It was a sloppy start to the second half as both teams committed multiple turnovers and failed to find their footing. Fousseyni Traore had five quick points for the Cougars, showing off his touch around the rim. BYU earned the second half lead with stifling defense, forcing seven turnovers in the half.

Gideon George scored all 10 of his points in the second half, attacking at the rim and scoring from deep. Alex Barcello led the team down the stretch with 15 points in the half and big buckets when the team needed it.

The offense for BYU finally came around in the middle of the second half. With just eight minutes left in the game, the Cougars had extended the lead to 10 points. It was the first time either team had held a double-digit lead in the game. BYU shot 69% from the field in the half to close out the game. Nice.

The Toreros quickly responded with an 8-0 run, cutting into the BYU lead. The teams scrapped back and forth in the waning minutes. Alex Barcello hit a deep three with just 2:27 left in the game that served as the final dagger. BYU defeated San Diego, 79-71.

BYU’s Next Opponent

BYU (16-4) stays home in Provo to face Portland (10-8) on Saturday night. They’ll tip-off at 7:00 p.m. (MDT) at the Marriott Center. You can listen to the game on KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.

Dallen Graff is a KSL Sports Contributor. He is the Producer of Cougar Sports Saturday (SUBSCRIBE) on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him onΒ Twitter.

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