Provo • Elijah Bryant was struggling mightily, by his own admission. Officials weren’t giving BYU’s leading scorer and one of the best players in the West Coast Conference any calls, and San Francisco was defending him better than any team has this season.
Then it happened — for the first time since Bryant last played NBA 2K, the video game, he said.
The junior guard hit a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in regulation to knot the score at 65 and force overtime, and BYU eked out a 75-73 win over the upset-minded Dons at the Marriott Center.
“It’s been awhile,” Bryant said of when he last made a buzzer-beater to impact a game.
Fellow guard TJ Haws said he “knew it was good” the second it left Bryant’s hand.
Assistant coach “Heath Schroyer drew up the play and said Eli was going to be wide open, and he was,” said Haws, who got his seventh assist with the pass to Bryant. “And when Eli is wide open like that, there is a dang good chance it is going in. So, I was excited.”
Coach Dave Rose said the Cougars executed the play “pretty much exactly” like Schroyer drew it up.
“We got the screen [from Yoeli Childs], we got the action on the side, Eli got the space, and he drilled it,” Rose said. “It was funny. I was right on line with him and the basket, and when it left his hand I was pretty sure it was going in.”
Bryant also came up with a steal with 15 seconds remaining, wresting the ball from Jordan Ratinho after Childs’ putback basket cut the deficit to four. Jahshire Hardnett made a 3-point play, and the Cougars got a break when Soulie Boum scored with 11 seconds left, rather than run out more of the clock.
“We went to trap, and I heard coach Quincy [Lewis] say to foul [Ratinho], but I knew I had four fouls,” Bryant said. “And he kinda put the ball where I could grab it. I thought I was going to get a jump ball, but I pulled it and got it out. We needed a 3, so I passed it to TJ, who passed it to Jahshire. He drove and got the and-one.”
Rose marveled over the comeback
“We are just doing our best to get better, and I really hope that this gives us [confidence],” he said. “Because there was an absolute feeling in that locker room that we haven’t had for awhile, where the guys were genuinely just really happy. That’s how I want it. I want to play with that feeling the rest of the way through this, and on to the postseason.”