Weber State never let BYU fully run away with the game, but the Cougars dominated the majority of it to beat the Wildcats 87-79 on Wednesday at Vivint Arena to wrap up nonconference play. It was the Cougars’ 16th consecutive win at Vivint Arena, home of the Utah Jazz.
It was the fifth and final in-state game for the Cougars, who have beaten all of their fellow Utah opponents.
• BYU finishes nonconference schedule with 9-2 record after beating Weber State 87-79.
• The Wildcats made 10 3-pointers on BYU, the most long shots the Cougars have given up this season.
• Cougars will kick off the WCC schedule Dec. 31 at Pepperdine.
“I wouldn’t call this a true rivalry game, but in-state games are tough like that,” grad transfer Matt Haarms said. “We’re definitely one of the most prominent teams in the state, probably the most prominent currently, so they really wanted to beat us. They had a lot of fight in them, knew they weren’t going to quit, so they just kept coming at us. And we were just able to hold them off down the stretch and get the win.”
A 22-7 run in the first half, strung together by a pair of 8-0 runs, started separating the game in BYU’s favor. The Wildcats threatened to erase the Cougars’ lead in the second half, but fell short.
BYU led by as many as 14, but the Wildcats cut it down to as low as four points with less than eight minutes left in the game.
With 30 seconds game, freshman Caleb Lohner essentially sealed the deal for the Cougars when he brought down an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back.
BYU coach Mark Pope said Lohner’s strong performance on the glass has been key to the Cougars’ success.
“It’s actually making a way bigger difference for us than people may think,” Pope said. “For us to be solid on the glass every single night, the confidence it gives us to know that he’s not only going to do really great work on the defensive glass, but he’s going to grab us some extra possessions, that’s actually way more than just the face value of the numbers.”
Weber State made 10 3-pointers, the most given up by BYU this season.
The Cougars were led by Haarms, with 15 points. Brandon Averette had a slow start, but finished with 14 points and Alex Barcello added 12 points.
BYU, on a four-game win streak, improves to 9-2. The Cougars will start West Coast Conference play Dec. 31 at Pepperdine.
Pope said his team will be off until Saturday night for the Christmas holiday. After the “no-stress” practice on Saturday, the Cougars will be off again on Sunday before really delving into getting ready for the Waves on Thursday.
The break in action is the longest BYU has endured since the season started, so Pope believes it will be a good way for his players to “emotionally detox.”
“I think that’s super important for them because this has been a — and we’re so grateful for it — but this has been a grind,” Pope said. “You think about us, with two-a-days, that’s a really intense five weeks. And then jumping into the season with a nonstop, tighter window of games than we’ve ever played before, with it being so competitive. I’m so glad my guys crossed this little mini finish line.”