Going into Wednesday night’s matchup between the BYU men’s basketball team and rival Weber State, the Wildcats had never won a game on the Marriott Center floor and BYU coach Dave Rose had never lost a game to the in-state opponent. Those trends continued as BYU dominated gameplay against Weber State, winning 94-66.
“I thought that tonight our players were ready to play,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “I thought that we were engaged from the start on both ends of the floor against a very good Weber State team. … I think that the last two nights out, our effort has been the storyline. ”
The Cougars held NCAA leading scorer Damian Lillard to only 15 points, well below his season average of 28.2 he held coming into the game. That defensive effort was a key focus for BYU. In the practices leading up to the game, the Cougars used a former NCAA leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette, on the scout team to mimic Lillard’s play. That preparation paid off for the Cougars as Lillard struggled to find a rhythm.
“[Lillard] is a terrific player. I thought we challenged his shots and the shots that he made were difficult shots,” Rose said. “I was really impressed with how we were consistently engaged with trying to make the game hard for him.”
The game started with the teams going back and forth with small scoring spurts. BYU took a 7-2 lead before Weber State scored eight straight points to take a three-point lead. Junior guard Brock Zylstra then caught fire, hitting two long jumpers to give the Cougars a 22-15 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
After a Zylstra 3-point basket, Weber State called timeout, regrouped and came back to within two points, 22-20. Immediately following the basket to bring the Wildcats within two, Weber State guard Scott Bamforth received a technical foul. The Cougars then began to stretch their lead behind the low post play of Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock.
By the end of the half, BYU held a 47-34 lead and had three players scoring in double figures. Hartsock ended the first-half with a double-double, posting 14 points and 10 rebounds. Zylstra and Davies ended the half with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The Cougars came out the locker room continuing where they left off, stretching their lead even further behind two 3-pointers from Charles Abouo and one from Nate Austin. With 15:30 remaining in the game, BYU held a 60-38 advantage.
With BYU in complete control of the game, Stephen Rogers continued to pour it on as he scored 10 straight points for the Cougars, including a fast-break dunk that extended the BYU lead to 29 and brought the home crowd to its feet.
The Cougar lead continued to extend as the game wound down, with BYU holding a 33-point advantage at one point. The team ended with six players scoring in double-figures as Abouo, Austin and Rogers all reached double figures in the second half.
Hartsock led the team on the night with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Davies also recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and hauling in 10 rebounds. Zylstra, Abouo, Rogers and Austin each contributed 15 points.
Next up for the Cougars is Utah in the Deseret First Duel, on Saturday at noon in the Hunstman Center in Salt Lake City.