PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It has been a rocky final season in the West Conference Conference for the BYU basketball team. But the Cougars are hoping to go out with a bang.
Rudy Williams had 21 points and seven assists, while Fousseyni Traore poured in 17 points as BYU cruised past San Francisco in its final WCC regular season game, 87-61, to end a four-game losing skid.
The Cougars will begin play in the Big 12 Conference next season.
“Tonight was a big win, it was good to get out of this little funk we were in,” Williams said. “All week we watched film of the last trip when we went up to San Francisco and the thing that we noticed was that they beat us to all the 50-50 balls, they were tougher than us, they dove on the floor and we didn’t. Shoutout to Coach Fennell, it was his scout, he made sure that we made those adjustments to be more physical. We played tough tonight, got more offensive rebounds and we won the fight.”
Gideon George and Jaxson Robinson each added 12 points as BYU shot 51.7 percent from the field and avenged an earlier loss to the Dons.
BYU took the lead with 13:33 left in the first half and did not give it up. The score was 40-27 at halftime, with Traore racking up 11 points. BYU pulled away with a 10-0 run in the second half to extend a 13-point lead to 23 points. They outscored San Francisco by 13 points in the final half, as Rudi Williams led the way with a team-high 14 second-half points.
“I am super grateful,” said head coach Mark Pope about ending the WCC regular season with a win. “We knew going into this game that we could either earn a five seed or end up with a seven seed, so I’m really proud of the guys for ringing the bell. It hasn’t been an easy season for us, it’s been super challenging but I couldn’t be more proud of these guys insides because it is hard. As much as we talk about not carrying around the baggage from what happened last week or the week before, there are very few people that can do that and these guys managed to come out with some joy and some fire.”
Khalil Shabazz had 21 points to lead San Francisco.
The Cougars (17-14, 7-9) will be the fifth seed in its last WCC Tournament beginning next week in Las Vegas. They’ll get the winner of the 8 vs. 9 game between Portland-San Diego. A win there would mean BYU plays Loyola Marymount on Saturday. BYU beat Portland and San Diego in each of their lone matchups, and split the season series against the Lions.