PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Fousseyni Traore’s team-high 17 points and 3 blocks along with Waterman’s 14 points and 8 rebounds helped give BYU a 63-57 win over in-state foe Weber State. The Cougars conclude non-conference play at 10-5 including five straight wins.
“One of the things I was super proud of the guys for was guarding their guy,” said head coach Mark Pope. “We’ve made a huge emphasis on keeping guys in front of us, so that the threes they get are off the dribble rather than drive-and-kick threes where they are set and it is a catch-and-shoot. I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”
Traore led the team in scoring for the sixth time this season and 11th time in his career, going 5-of-10 fro the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. He also surpassed 500 career points with his free throws in the final two minutes of regulation.
Waterman reached double figures for the second straight game as the junior went 4-of-7 from the field, 2-of-5 from three and 4-of-7 from the charity stripe. He also tied a season-high with 8 rebounds, two of those coming on the offensive glass.
Despite shooting just 38.5% from the field on the night, BYU’s defense and effort on the glass proved to be the difference in the end, holding the Wildcats to 39.6 percent shooting and 8 blocks as a team while out-rebounding Weber State 39-27.
After struggling early from the field, Waterman helped get the Cougars going with a right-wing three and left-hand runner, giving BYU the early 7-6 lead. Weber State would immediately answer with an 8-0 run of their own though, going 4-5 from the field over that span to take a 14-7 lead.
Rudi Williams and Richie Saunders provided a much needed boost off the bench for the Cougars early, as the players combined for 9 quick points and a 6-0 run to tie the game at 16.
Out of the media timeout, Steven Verplancken’s free-throws ended the Saunder and Williams run as the Wildcats re-took the lead 18-16. Nearing the end of the first half, Fousseyni Traore’s layup extended the Cougar lead to 29-24 heading into the break.
Coming out of halftime, both teams struggled from the floor, going over two minutes and thirty seconds with no points being scored. Traore picked up where he left off in the second half, making the layup off a Dallin Hall assist to give BYU a 31-24 lead. On the ensuing possession, Traore recorded his season-high and game-high third block of the game, immediately leading to the Hall transition layup off the Waterman assist.
Jaxson Robinson tallied his first points of the game in the second half with a right corner three to give the Cougars their largest lead of the game, 38-28. The Wildcats wouldn’t go away though, going on a 5-0 run before Williams’ mid-range jumper for the Cougars. After trading buckets, George made his first three of the game as well, maintaining the Cougar lead 45-37.
After struggling from the field to open the half, Weber State found a way to keep pace with the BYU offense, pouring in 7 straight field goals over a four minute stretch. Following Dillon Jones’s fade-away jumper to give him his game-high 18th point, the BYU lead was trimmed to just 2 after the Weber State 6-0 run, 47-45.
Weber State continued to show fight down the stretch, as Dyson Koehler’s quick three and Alex Tew’s transition dunk brought the Cougar lead to just 55-54 with under 3 minutes to play. But with the game on the line and the Wildcats needing a stop, George swooped in for the game-clinching offensive rebound, leading to Robinson free-throws to help ice the game for the Cougars. Following two free-throws by George in the closing seconds, BYU came away victorious with the 63-57 win.
BYU’s next game marks the beginning of conference play in the WCC as they get set to face Pacific in Stockton, Calif., December 29, at 7 p.m.