BYU Men’s Basketball powers back to defeat Saint Mary’s 62-52

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BYU Men’s Basketball powers back to defeat Saint Mary’s 62-52

The BYU men’s basketball team beat the Saint Mary’s Gaels 62-52 in Moraga, moving to 10-3 on the season and 1-1 in West Coast Conference play.

It was the Cougars’ first win at Saint Mary’s in six years, with the last one coming in 2014 when Tyler Haws was still wearing a BYU uniform.

Senior point guard Alex Barcello led the Cougars with 14 points, two rebounds and two assists, shooting 6-of-10 from the field. Transfer seniors Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette also contributed with nine points each.

The Cougars struggled from beyond the 3-point arc, shooting only 10% the entire night. First-time starter Trevin Knell hit the only BYU 3-pointer just over four minutes into the first half. After that, the Cougars were stone-cold from distance.

“Honestly, I didn’t even notice we only made one three,” Averette said after the game. “We’re a team, we just figure it out, you know. That’s one of the things these coaches preach: no matter what, we’re going to figure it out, figure out a way to win.”

The Gaels got off to a quick 5-0 lead to start the game, leaving the Cougars a bit shell-shocked. Junior forward Kolby Lee hit a mid-range jumper to break the streak, bringing the game within three.

The teams exchanged baskets for the next few minutes, with neither one able to get a substantial stop. The Cougars took their first lead of the game off the singular 3-pointer from Knell, going up 11-9 just five minutes in.

The lead was short-lived, however, as the Gaels fought back to retake the lead, 19-17, with eight minutes left in the first half. Saint Mary’s maintained the lead until the final minutes of the second half.

Things didn’t look so great for BYU to start off the second half. Each time a Cougar hit a potentially game-changing shot, the Gaels matched it, and then some. Within the first nine minutes of the half, Saint Mary’s had increased its lead to eight, up 48-40.

That’s when the Cougars decided to turn up the gas.

Junior forward Gideon George came off the bench and hit two quick shots, giving BYU the spark they had been waiting for. What was already a scrappy game became even more physical. The Cougars were right there for seemingly every rebound, loose ball and tie-up.

Following George’s baskets, Knell made two crucial jump shots, putting the Cougars up 51-50 with 4:33 left in the game, a lead they would never lose.

The Cougars went on an extended 19-2 run in the final minutes of the game, sharing the wealth between Averette, George and Caleb Lohner. As the game clock dwindled to zero, the Gaels looked noticeably baffled after getting shut out by the Cougars for 10 minutes in the second half.

Head coach Mark Pope was nothing but smiles after the game. “I’m so happy, guys. Like I can’t even tell you. I’m such a greedy winner. I’m just so happy. We talk about the ‘Best Locker Room in America’, and it’s hard to understand, but this is it. I get so belligerent and over-happy when we win, and that’s how I am right now. Let’s go!”

The Cougars will look to continue their good fortune on the road as they face the San Francisco Dons on Saturday, Jan. 16.

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