BYU Basketball Falls In Last Visit To Santa Clara

Jan 20, 2023, 12:23 AM | Updated: 11:23 am

PROVO, Utah – For a brief moment, BYU basketball had an opportunity to get back in the West Coast Conference title race.

Before the Cougars road game at Santa Clara, Gonzaga had a shocking loss to Loyola Marymount at The Kennell. It was the first time since BYU’s been in the WCC that the Zags lost at home to a WCC team not named BYU or Saint Mary’s.

Despite last week’s loss to the Zags, BYU had a chance to get back in the title hunt. They just needed to pull off an upset on the road against Santa Clara.

Winning on the road is one of the hardest things in college basketball. It played out that way on Thursday as BYU lost to Santa Clara, 83-76.

A sloppy first half for BYU basketball

The first half was highlighted for all the wrong reasons by BYU. Turnovers have often been a problem for this year’s BYU squad, but they hit a low point on Thursday night. Through the first half of action against the Broncos, BYU committed 15 turnovers.

Spencer Johnson and Dallin Hall each had three turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

BYU only had two points in the first seven minutes of game action. A brutal start.

Despite all of the miscues, BYU found themselves only down by eight points. Considering how bad BYU played, that felt like a moral victory for Pope’s crew. They had it down to five, but SCU star and Illinois transfer Brandin Podziemski knocked down a three as the clock expired to close the half.

BYU starts the second half strong, but SCU pulls away

BYU looked like a completely different team to open the second half. The Cougars began the second period of action on a 14-2 run. They built up a 40-36 lead at the 16-minute mark.

Over the next 10 minutes, the game, was back and forth. BYU guard Rudi Williams led the way for the Cougars scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half.

Williams capitalized at the free throw line, going 7-of-8 and was 6-of-11 from the field. He also didn’t commit any turnovers in the second half.

But even more impressive than Williams was the play of Santa Clara’s Carlos Steward and Keshaw Justice. The two combined for 27 points in the second half. Justice was also a force on the glass, pulling down four rebounds.

Both BYU and Santa Clara came into the game as the two best rebounding teams in the West Coast Conference. But the physicality from SCU appeared to shock BYU, especially down the stretch.

The physical play and size from Santa Clara also caused headaches for BYU’s bigs on the offensive end. Fousseyni Traore finished with only three field goal attempts. The sophomore star finished with six points and nine rebounds.

Ultimately, BYU’s fight faded down the stretch as Podziemski and the Broncos pulled away in the final eight minutes of action.

In the second half, SCU shot 53% from the field and 37.5% from three. By comparison, BYU was 45.5% and 29.4%.

Up Next

BYU drops to 14-8 overall and 4-3 in West Coast Conference play. Next up is another road game on Saturday against San Francisco at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and KSL NewsRadio.

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 Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Basketball Falls In Last Visit To Santa Clara