PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It was more of a struggle than expected, but the BYU men’s basketball team pulled out a 60-56 win in its season opener over Idaho State.
Down 56-55 with ten seconds left, Spencer Johnson drilled a three-pointer, his only attempt from beyond the arc all game long, to give the Cougars a 58-56 lead. Miguel Tomley missed a lay-up in the final seconds that would of tied the score. Johnson then hit two free throws to ice the game.
“Every athlete dreams about that moment and very few people get the chance to do it in front of this crowd,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “What most people don’t know is that moment has been 10 years in the making. He is so hungry to be a great player, and there was never a moment where he stopped pushing. So, when you put all that work in, and get your first start in a game like this, you are ready.”
Fousseyni Traore led BYU with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Johnson finished with 11 points and six boards. Gideon George had 10 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block.
The Cougars created 22 Bengal turnovers with 12 coming by way of steals. Johnson, George, Jaxson Robinson and Dallin Hall each snagged two steals on the night with Rudi Williams, Noah Waterman, Richie Saunders and Traore each recording steals of their own. BYU scored 23 of its 60 points off ISU turnovers which helped the Cougars move to 1-0 on the season.
The Cougars led 27-22 at the half, but trailed trailed 45-37 with 10:52 left after a jumper by Brayden Parker. BYU still trailed by five points with three minutes to play before closing the game on a 12-3 run.
George hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two. Traore scored four points in the final minute to set up Johnson’s dramatic game-winning three-pointer.
Both teams struggled from the floor, as BYU made just 37.3 percent of its shots, while the Bengals were 38 percent from the field.
Brock MacKenzie led Idaho State with 15 points.
BYU (1-0) next plays at #19 San Diego State Friday at 8:30 p.m.