Alex Barcello takes a layup against Pepperdine. (Decker Westenburg)

BYU men’s basketball second-half surge leads to 75-59 win over Pepperdine on Senior Night

Senior Night can be both a memorable and emotional time for those that are playing their last games at home. For the BYU men’s basketball seniors, it was a game they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, running away from the Pepperdine Waves in the second half for a 75-59 win.

The four seniors honored included fifth-year senior Alex Barcello, grad transfer Te’Jon Lucas, and fellow four-year seniors Richard Harward and Gavin Baxter.

There was a pre-game ceremony for the seniors with a tribute video that was put with the song “See You Again” by Charlie Puth. The seniors then were each introduced one at a time to let the crowd give them a standing ovation before the game started.

As soon as the ball was tipped off, it was all business for the Cougars.

The game itself was a back and forth situation in the early minutes of the game. Gideon George, who scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, and Fouss Traore, who led the team with 25 points (9-of-10 from the field), helped keep the Cougars in front throughout the first half. Traore also had 19 rebounds, a new single-game record for a BYU freshman.

Fouss Traore after a dunk against Pepperdine. (Decker Westenburg)

The biggest struggle for the Cougars in the first half was missed free throws, shooting only a 3-of-8 from the line and allowing the Waves to stay in the game. The Cougars led by just three at the half.

BYU pulled away in the second half, outscoring Pepperdine 39-26 in the final 20 minutes. Two highlight moments in the second half nearly brought the roof off the Marriott Center: first a step-back three from Barcello and then an alley-oop dunk from Caleb Lohner on a fast break.

Lucas and Barcello didn’t have the stellar performances they usually have, but they provided enough contribution to help keep the Cougars in the lead. Lucas finished his last home game with 15 points, while shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown. Barcello finished with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field.

Baxter, who has been out since the Dec. 1 game against Utah Valley, and Harward, who has been out all season due to a cardiovascular condition, got to enter the game toward the very end to loud applause.

“We don’t see our season ending any time soon. We’ve got a lot of fight left. Especially the two of us,” speaking of Lucas and himself.

BYU finishes the season in fifth place in the West Coast Conference and will take the 5-seed in the conference tournament next Friday.

“I think we’ve got to be one of the scariest fifth-place teams in any conference,” Lucas said. “We’re gonna carry that edge to Vegas.”

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