After losing to Boise State in overtime last season, the Cougars didn’t want to find themselves in the same situation.
But a missed 3-pointer from Alex Barcello prevented BYU from forcing overtime. Instead, the Broncos added one more point on a free throw to close out the game 74-70, handing the Cougars their first home loss since Nov. 9, 2019.
“We knew they were a good team coming in — they’re very talented in a bunch of different positions,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “They came out with good fire, passion to start the game and we just could not respond. I was proud of my guys for hanging in, fight and kind of battled through frustration, putting their heart into every possession. We just weren’t quite good enough to get it done.”
Last week, USC’s length and athleticism proved to be too much for the Cougars, giving them their first loss of the season. Boise State came to the Marriott Center on Wednesday giving BYU the same issues and, although the Cougars fared better than a week ago, it still proved to be too much.
Even though the result ended up being the same, Pope saw improvement in how his team fought in the second half to try to fix their mistakes.
“The difference was, in this game, we came out in the second half and stayed dialed in, locked in emotionally to the game, if not executing sufficiently,” Pope said. “That’s the foundation. If we can learn to be dialed into the game and manage all the frustration of the game ... it gives us a chance to actually grow. Clearly, we need to become a way better team.”
Boise State started hot, with a 14-0 run while not providing BYU any open looks.
The Broncos did a good job of blanketing Barcello, BYU’s leading scorer, early in the game. The senior wasn’t even able to attempt his first field goal — which happened to be the Cougars’ first 3-pointer of the game — until there were nine seconds left in the first half, but then was able to find his footing in the second half.
Making that 3-pointer to cut the deficit to nine points at halftime allowed Barcello to spark his teammates in the locker room.
“I don’t really mind if I get five shots in the first half, or zero shots in the first half — all I care about is winning,” Barcello said. “With the game plan that [Boise State] had coming in to the game, they were going to guard me hard. And that’s what they did, so I was just trying to play as smart as I could
Barcello wrapped up the game with 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field and 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Matt Haarms added 18 points for the Cougars, while the bench was led by Spencer Johnson (10 points) and Richard Harward (8).
The Cougars erased the 14-point deficit halfway through the second half on a Barcello jumper, but were never able to gain the lead themselves.
BYU will next host in-state rival Utah on Saturday in what is set to be a jam-packed sports day in Provo. The women’s basketball team will kick things off at noon against Boise State at the Marriott Center, followed by the men’s game against the Utes at 4 p.m. BYU football will serve as the nightcap, hosting San Diego State at LaVell Edwards Stadium at 8 p.m.
The Cougars (5-2) will have to move on from Wednesday’s loss quickly to prepare for the Utah — another team that got the best of them last season.
“We got to come in ready to battle,” Barcello said. “We got to come in with the mindset that it’s going to be a war. ... Whatever the game’s giving us, we’ve got to fight the entire game.”