NASSAU, Bahamas (ABC4 Sports) – Despite a double-double from Fousseyni Traore, the BYU basketball team lost its second straight game in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
Jayden Taylor scored 20 points, Eric Hunter Jr. added 19 points and Butler defeated BYU 75-70 in Thursday’s consolation bracket at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“Congratulations to Butler, I thought they made some really big plays down the stretch,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “I was proud of our guys. I thought we won in a lot of the areas that we wanted to win in but just couldn’t win the game. We will continue to get better.”
Traore finished with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 5-of-6 from the charity stripe while grabbing 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Traore tallied five offensive boards, four assists and two steals on the night.
Gideon George and Rudi Williams also finished in double figures for BYU with 14 and 12 points respectively. George pulled down six rebounds, three steals and two assists while Williams went 50 percent from the field and assisted on two scores for the Cougars.
The Cougars shot 41.8 percent from the floor on the night, but struggled from behind the arc, going 3-of-20 from downtown. BYU scored 46 of their 70 points in the paint, forced 16 turnovers which turned into 21 points and scored 20 second-chance points off 17 offensive rebounds in the five-point loss.
With BYU trailing the Bulldogs 6-5, Butler went on an 8-0 run to take a 14-5 lead with 15:23 to play in the first period. The Cougars countered with back-to-back scores from Traore and a fast-break layup from Richie Saunders to cut the Butler lead to five.
By the under-12 timeout, the Bulldogs had again extended the lead to nine, 20-11 however the Cougars whittled it down to five courtesies of a Noah Waterman triple and free throws from Atiki Ally Atiki with 6:32 to play in the first.
After BYU cut the Butler advantage to three, the Bulldogs scored on three-straight possessions to again take a nine-point lead with 3:40 to go in the first. Out of the under-4 media timeout the Cougars cut the lead to six with a Saunders layup and a Williams fade away jumper.
Butler got a second-chance bucket with 58 seconds left in the first half to take a seven-point advantage into the break.
Traore blocked the first Butler shot of the second half and found Williams for a fast-break lay-up. On the ensuing possession, George pulled down an offensive rebound and reset to Williams who knocked down BYU’s second three of the game to pull within two with 18:56 to play.
On the next three possessions, George got a steal and took it the length of the floor for the score, Jaxson Robinson hit a three and Traore hit a jump hook to take a 42-37 lead.
After an Ally Atiki make gave BYU a one-point lead, the Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run to take a 54-48 lead with 11:20 to go. With the Cougars down six, Traore and Williams trimmed the lead to two, but Butler again extended the advantage to eight with 5:10 to play.
With 3:11 left, Robinson found Traore down low whose kiss off the glass brought BYU within three. On the next Butler possession, George picked off a pass, found Williams on a 3-on-1 who pulled the Cougars within one.
The Bulldogs hit a three with 2:08 to play to go up four before George scored three the old-fashioned way to again cut the lead to one with 1:54 left.
George had a look to tie the game with 18-second remaining, but the shot missed short, allowing the Bulldogs to close out a 75-70 win with free throws.
BYU will play Dayton in the seventh-place game Friday at 1:30 p.m.