BYU Falls In Heartbreaker Against Santa Clara

Jan 27, 2022, 11:17 PM
(Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Johnson/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah — BYU suffered their first misstep in conference play, falling to Santa Clara 77-76. Neither team held a lead over four points as they battled for all 40 minutes. It’s a disappointing loss for a BYU team that can’t afford too many losses in WCC play.

Alex Barcello led the way for the Cougars. One of the nation’s best shooters, the super senior continues to shine this season. Barcello scored 20 points on 8-17 shooting in the game. Jalen Williams led all scorers with 26 points, including the game-winning shot with less than a second left in the game.

BYU falls to 5-2 in West Coast Conference play. Santa Clara made a case to be mentioned among a much improved WCC. The Broncos improve to 3-2 against conference foes.

Tightly Contested First Half

It was all offense to start this game as both teams shot the ball well out the gate. The Cougars and Broncos both traded shots early in this game, setting an up-tempo pace for the game.

Santa Clara focused all their attention on BYU’s best player, Alex Barcello. Barcello was consistently hounded by Broncos’ defenders. When he found a window, he took his opportunities. Barcello was 5-7 for 13 points in the first half to lead the team. He got help from his teammates, most notably Gideon George. George had 10 points and four rebounds off the bench for the Cougars.

Santa Clara attacked BYU at the rim, challenging the Cougars young frontcourt. The Broncos boast a big lineup with plenty of experience, which they used to their advantage.  Santa Clara outscored BYU in the paint, 26-14. BYU shot the ball well from deep in the first half. They were 6-14 from three in the half.

Foul trouble caused problems for the Cougars in the half; they committed nine fouls as a teamBYU’s big men all struggled with foul trouble. Atiki Ally Atiki, Fousseyni Traore and Caleb Lohner all committed two fouls each in the half. The trio combined for just six points.

BYU closed the stretch with tough defense on the Broncos. They forced a couple turnovers and took the lead before the end of the half. BYU led Santa Clara at halftime, 39-37.

Second Half Comes Down To The Buzzer

The closely contested matchup continued in the second half. The teams traded buckets back and forth to start the half. Both teams started the half shooting over 60% from the field.

As the half continued, the defense tightened up. Neither team could generate a run to extend their lead. Three-point shooting was a struggle in the half, BYU shot 25% in the final 20 minutes.

Te’Jon Lucas was a consistent force for the Cougars down the stretch. The savvy senior came up with big buckets when the team needed it, especially with Alex Barcello on the bench. He led the team with 12 second half points on 6-6 shooting.

It was BYU who dominated the paint in the second half. The Cougars attacked the rim, outrebounding Santa Clara 21-10 and outscoring them 26-18 down low. BYU locked down the Broncos down the stretch. Santa Clara went on a 3:47 minute scoring drought as the Cougars took control.

But the Cougars couldn’t pull away. A lane violation by Spencer Johnson gave Santa Clara one last look with six seconds remaining. Jalen Williams went the length of the floor, hitting the game winner with under a second left to play. Santa Clara stunned BYU, beating the Cougars 77-76.

BYU’s Next Opponent

BYU (17-5) continues their road trip in California as they face Pacific (5-13) on Saturday night. They’ll tip-off at 7:30 p.m. (MDT) at the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, CA. 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 on Twitter.

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