PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Matt Haarms scored a season-high 23 points, making all of his nine shots from the field, to lead BYU past Portland in its first game at the Marriott Center in exactly one month, 95-67.
“I’m super proud of my guys,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “Boatloads of frustration in the first half. It’s almost like they just want to be frustrated. We just can’t get enough of it, and that’s a real gift as a team when it doesn’t turn you totally sideways. I was really pleased with how the guys shared the ball, and I was really pleased with all the contributions we got from our guys.”
The seven-foot-three center even connected on his lone three-point attempt of the night, and pulled down six boards, blocked three shots and recorded a steal in the win.
“I think my guys put me in great positions,” Haarms said. “After they found out that I was doing a great job down low, I think they started looking for me every single time. In the first half I didn’t really establish myself, but then they realized early in the second half that I was doing really well and they really helped me have a good game today.”
Brandon Averette and Alex Barcello both contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively. Barcello snatched a career-high eight rebounds and added six assists to his stat line. Richard Harward scored 12 points of his own, marking the fourth Cougar to reach double-figures in scoring.
BYU drained 14 three-pointers in total, scoring 58 second half points and shooting 57 percent from the field for the game.
“It was amazing,” Barcello said about BYU’s shooting. “It’s something we focus on every day, Coach Fueger is great about getting us at least 20 minutes of skill work, you know, catch and shoot, catch and shoot on the move, different types of shots that we’ll see in games, whether it’s an extra pass to another extra pass or the skip pass or a post passing out to the weak side. He does extremely well at getting us game like shots, and I think it showed tonight in the game.”
BYU (12-3, 3-1 WCC) held Portland (6-8, 0-5 WCC) to 37.5 percent shooting. The Cougars had a season-high 28 assists on 36 made field goals as 10 different BYU players scored in the game. The Cougars dominated the post, outrebounding the Pilots 44-27 and outscoring them 42-22 in the paint.
Trevin Knell knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing on the opening possession as BYU jumped out to a 9-3 lead. Portland took advantage of poor shooting by the Cougars and responded with 13-straight points to make the score 16-9.
Spencer Johnson hit from behind the arc while Harward and Caleb Lohner both scored in the paint to tie the game at 16-all. Kolby Lee retook the lead, 21-19, for BYU with a jump hook in the post midway through the first half.
The Cougars maintained control as both Averette and Barcello scored from deep to give BYU a four-point edge, 29-25. Lohner scored a layup and Harward added four points of his own in the post to increase the Cougars’ advantage to eight points, 35-27.
BYU entered the break with a 37-31 lead while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor. Portland shot 40 percent from the field and from behind the arc, making six threes. Nine different Cougars scored in the first half as BYU’s bench outscored the Pilots bench 16-6.
Knell started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, scoring a 3-pointer on the first offensive possession. A pair of free throws by Haarms and a fast-break layup by Averette increased the Cougars’ lead to 44-33.
The threes continued to fall for BYU as Barcello and Johnson made a couple of treys to give the Cougars a 14-point lead, 54-40. Haarms scored six points in two minutes and Gideon George knocked down a 3-point jumper off the bench to extend BYU’s advantage to 67-48, eight minutes into the second period.
Averette scored from behind the arc before dishing the ball to Haarms on the ensuing possession for an easy dunk to increase the lead to 26 points, 72-48. Haarms continued to fuel the Cougar offense, adding a 3-pointer of his own and throwing down another dunk.
A Harding 3-point jumper gave BYU an 86-58 lead, its largest of the game. Harward added four more points down the stretch as the Cougars cruised to the 95-67 win over the Pilots.
The Cougars will remain at home, hosting Pepperdine at the Marriott Center on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m.