LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – The BYU basketball team may be peaking at the right time.
Matt Haarms scored 21 points, while Caleb Lohner added 18 as the Cougars dominated Loyola Marymount Saturday afternoon, 88-71.
BYU led by as many as 32 points with 8:15 left before the Lions rallied to make the score somewhat respectable.
Alex Barcello added 15 points and Brandon Averette chipped in with 14, as the Cougars shot 55.4 percent from the field.
“I thought our guys did an unbelievable job coming in with focus and fight,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “Our young guys Gideon George and Caleb Lohner did a really good job with really difficult defensive assignments, and then Matt Haarms was just off the charts tonight, in every facet of the game. His rim protection was probably the difference in the first half. His offense in the second half was extraordinary. It makes the game really easy when you just say ‘pass it to Matt,’ and let him go score.”
BYU (17-50, 8-3 WCC) raced out to a 47-25 lead at half and pulled away in the second half for its fourth victory in its last five games.
Haarms made seven of eight shots from the field, and dominated on the defensive end with a season-high five blocked shots. This marks the sixth game in row where the Cougars have had a different leading scorer.
Lohner had his second straight excellent performance. Coming off a career-high 19 points against Pacific on Thursday, the freshman from Wasatch Academy made six of 10 shots, two of three from 3-point range, and pulled down seven rebounds.
The BYU defense forced 15 LMU turnovers, scoring 23 points off those turnovers, and held the Lions to 43.6 percent shooting from the field.
Spencer Johnson and Trevin Knell each had eight points off the bench for the Cougars. BYU has now won its last three West Coast Conference road games by a combined 90 points.
“I am so proud of this group,” Pope said. “You have 17 guys contributing, and you have a rotation of nine or 10 or 11 and it’s so hard. Guys have to work so much extra to make it function, and it takes a long time for the stew to kind of coalesce and be right. These guys are really working hard at that.”
Ivan Alipiev led LMU with 22 points.
The Cougars will wrap up the regular season next week with home games Thursday against San Francisco and Saturday against Saint Mary’s.