The BYU men’s basketball team exploded for a strong second half Saturday to run away with a win over Santa Clara, 95-78.
The Cougars scored 50 points on 60 percent shooting after halftime, utilizing dominant post play and high scoring contribution from several different players. They finished the game with a season-high 56.9 percent from the floor.
“Going in, I didn’t think we’d need 95 to win,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I’m proud of our guys being able to keep up with them, because that’s what we had to do tonight. We had a hard time stopping them, so we had to score to win this game.”
Three BYU players scored at least 20 points. Junior forward Brandon Davies led all scorers with 23 points, 17 of which came in the first half, while senior forward Noah Hartsock and freshman guard Matt Carlino each added 21. Those three players combined for 65 of the team’s 95 points.
“We have a lot of confidence in our post guys to score the ball,” Rose said. “Brandon was really good in the first half and Noah was really good in the second half. That’s a good combination to have.”
Carlino had a game-high eight assists, as he and the other guards continued to feed the post, while also being able to knock down outside shots.
“We wouldn’t be getting our touches if it wasn’t for our guards,” Davies said. “We’re not as dangerous if we don’t have guards who can hit from the outside. We’re a well-balanced team.”
Santa Clara hit six 3-pointers in the first half, keeping the game close and causing BYU to make several second half adjustments. The Cougars led at halftime 45-42. Junior guard Kevin Foster led the Broncos with 15 first half points on 4-for-6 shooting, including three 3-pointers.
“When you’re a great player like he is, you’re going to hit tough shots,” Davies said. “He hit a lot of deep 3s. He created well for his teammates. We just took it upon ourselves to shade to him more defensively and make sure that he wasn’t the one that was going to beat us every time.”[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]
Foster was held to just seven points in the second half, and hit only one from beyond the arc. The Broncos shot 21 percent from behind the arc in the second half, compared to 55 percent before halftime.
“Santa Clara has great scorers and great talent,” Hartsock said. “We were expecting a good fight from them. We just stuck together as a team. We did what we needed to do, and came out with a victory tonight.”
Senior guard Charles Abouo had 13 points for the Cougars, and freshman forward Nate Austin had a game-high seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Junior forward Niyi Harrison had 18 points for the Broncos, while junior Raymond Cowels III had 14 and sophomore Evan Roquemore added 11.
The Cougars have a quick turnaround, as they will play at the University of San Diego on Monday night.
“We’ve got to prepare for this mentally more than being out there on the court,” Hartsock said. “We have to adapt well, and focus on what we did the first time against San Diego.”
The Cougars won that game 88-52 on Dec. 31.