Provo • To the best of his memory, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose could not remember anything quite like it. Not even in the glorious days of Cougar superstar Jimmer Fredette, days that seem a long, long ways away for Rose’s suddenly struggling program right now.
"Wow," Rose said, when asked if he has ever seen a team shoot the ball as well in the second half as the San Francisco Dons did on Saturday night in front of 15,477 shocked fans at the Marriott Center.
StorylinesIN SHORT » BYU blows a 15-point lead in the second half as hot-shooting San Francisco explodes past the Cougars.
KEY STAT » The Dons were 9 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half.
Overcoming what was a 15-point BYU lead early in the second half with a dazzling display of shooting, including an eye-popping 9 of 10 from 3-point range, San Francisco stunned BYU 99-87 to hand the Cougars their second upset loss in three days.
"This week has been a difficult stretch for us," Rose said.
But while Thursday’s 74-68 loss at San Diego can be attributed to the Cougars’ mistakes as much as the Toreros’ strong play, Saturday was all about the Dons, who probably wouldn’t be 11-13 overall, 4-7 in West Coast Conference play, if they could shoot half as well as that in other games.
BYU is now clearly out of the NCAA Tournament picture for an at-large bid, but as Rose noted in his somber postgame address, the Cougars (18-8, 8-4) have more pressing issues right now than what they will be doing in March.
"They came here and scored 99 points, and in order to win a game like that we have to be a lot better offensively," Rose said. "But I don’t think our issues ... well, they are probably on both ends of the floor, but defensively is where we will have to address them the most.
"I thought that [USF] came in with a great game plan and deserved to win, with how they played."
The strange thing was the Dons did not shoot all that well in the first half, allowing BYU to take a 48-39 lead at the break, a lead the Cougars stretched to 15 by opening the second half on a 6-0 run.
Then San Francisco got hot. Really hot.
The Cougars knew Cody Doolin could hurt them, and he did, finishing with 16 points and eight assists. But Chris Adams (5 for 6), Avry Holmes (3 for 5) and De’End Parker (3 for 3) were brilliant from 3-point range, leaving fans wondering where these guys came from.
"We just tried to spread them out, and we were making shots," said USF coach Rex Walters. "... We found the open man, and even late in the shot clock we were able to get quality looks."
Offensively, the Cougars couldn’t keep up. BYU’s big three of Brandon Davies (4 of 12), Tyler Haws (4 of 16) and Matt Carlino (4 of 12) all had off shooting nights, and Brock Zyltra’s 18 points led the team. The Cougars shot just 35.5 percent in the second half.
Haws was so frustrated by some of the rough tactics in the first half that he picked up a technical foul for throwing a forearm shiver at a player after a foul was finally called on his defender. Carlino picked up two early fouls and played just five minutes in the first half.
"They were a step quicker than we were in the second half," Rose said, when asked whether the physical play in the first half took its toll on the Cougars. "That might have been [attributed to] the fact that they didn’t play this week. This was their only game. We had the momentum there in the second half, and we kinda let it slip away. There were a lot of different reasons for that.
"One was that we didn’t consistently keep scoring, and they got on a roll, and it kinda shifted quickly."
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