Caleb Lohner passes against Portland in the Marriott Center. Lohner had a career-high 19 points on the road against Pacific. (Hannah Miner)

Lohner goes off in 80-52 BYU men’s basketball victory over Pacific

The BYU men’s basketball team dismantled the Pacific Tigers 80-52 in Stockton on Thursday, moving to 16-5 on the season and 7-3 in West Coast Conference play.

The last time the Cougars faced the Tigers, BYU narrowly came away with the 95-87 victory in double overtime. This time, with a whopping 13 3-pointers made, the Cougars dominated.

Freshman forward Caleb Lohner tallied a career-high 19 points, going an astonishing 5-of-6 from beyond the 3-point line. Alex Barcello and Brandon Averette joined Lohner in double figures, scoring 15 and 10 points respectively.

Lohner’s career performance did not come as a surprise to head coach Mark Pope.

“He certainly had an unbelievable performance tonight,” Pope said. “He works so hard. He’s in every single rep, every single day in practice. He’s getting up countless shots before and after practice. He’s pretty special.”

Lohner showed flashes of brilliance early in the game. Within the first five minutes, the freshman had already scored seven points, including two 3-pointers. Lohner has struggled from beyond the arc all season, making his quick start even more impressive.

The Cougars continued to build off of Lohner’s early success, jumping out to a quick 14-7 lead off of an easy layup from junior Richard Harward. 

From there, the game got messy on both sides. Neither team looked confident from the field, shooting desperation shots rather than clean baskets. Despite their bad shooting, the Tigers brought the score within one with a jumper from Jordan Bell, 20-19.

The Cougars came alive from there, capping off an 11-1 run with a beautiful jumper from Spencer Johnson, putting the score at 31-20 in favor of BYU.

Lohner continued his dominance in the final minute of the half, slamming home an alley-oop pass from Averette to put the Cougars up 38-24. The Pacific bench looked stunned, looking more like deer caught in headlights than ferocious tigers. When they finally walked into the locker room a minute later, BYU led 38-26.

If the Cougars played well in the first half, they played amazingly in the second. Within just the first five minutes, BYU had mustered a 17-point lead off of a big 3-pointer from Averette, 50-33.

The next five minutes were much of the same. With just 9:51 left in the contest, Lohner put up his fifth three-pointer of the game, extending the Cougar lead to 25 with a score of 61-36.

Even with the substantial lead, the Cougars did not slow down in the final minutes. With 6:05 left to play, Averette put up a clean jumper to bring the score to 67-40. Trevin Knell contributed with a pair of threes, and even big man Kolby Lee managed to bank a three home. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cougars had had a dominant 80-52 victory.

“I think we’re just getting better and better and better and better,” Lohner said. “We’re working hard. We’re finding little ways every day to improve. I’m really proud of the way the team has come together.”

BYU will continue its road tour at Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Feb. 20. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

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