BYU posts its second consecutive comeback win, beating San Francisco 72-63
Richard Harward and Gideon George play big roles for the Cougars off the bench.
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young center Richard Harward (42), pictured in a game against Weber State at Vivint Arena on Dec. 23, scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds off the bench in the Cougars' 72-63 victory over San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.
Although the Cougars struggled at points, particularly in the first 15 minutes, junior transfer Gideon George
kept BYU in the game during the first half. Then, junior Richard Harward
all but handed BYU the road win. The Cougars ended the week with their second consecutive win, this time beating San Francisco 72-63 on the road on Saturday.
The win improves the Cougars to 11-3 on the season and 2-1 in West Coast Conference play. It also put an end to a tough start to league play.
BYU’s first three originally scheduled WCC games were postponed due to COVID-19 related issues
, leading the Cougars to instead start league play with Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco — all on the road.
Coming away with the two Bay Area wins was a massive feat for BYU.
“I think it’s huge for us,” senior Alex Barcello
said. “We’re going to have a great plane ride back to Provo. Just knowing that we beat two really tough, really good teams in our conference — it’s just a really good feeling. And I think that’s going to continue to show as we move throughout conference.”
The Cougars struggled from the arc early in the game, and were even held scoreless for more than five minutes while the Dons went on a 13-2 run, but found other ways to score.
BYU outscored San Francisco 40-18 in the paint and 31-12 from off the bench. The Cougars also outrebounded the Dons 45-28.
It also helped that the Cougars were fouled more in the second half. The first 20 minutes of the game featured only two free-throw attempts, but the second half saw a total of 19 attempts — 16 of which were granted to BYU.
It’s also helped that BYU coach Mark Pope has a lot of depth on his team, and therefore can play 10 different players.
“I thought our depth was huge this weekend,” Pope said. “Depth can be super frustrating. It slows down your development because you’re coaching 10 guys every practice instead of five or eight — or 11 instead of five or eight — and sometimes things can feel disjointed. ... When you have a dynamic like that, it’s really special.”
George entered the game midway through the first half and almost immediately started putting plays together for the Cougars on both sides of the ball. The junior was key in bringing San Francisco’s 10-point lead down to a one-point difference at halftime.
George ended the night with 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks.
In the second half, Harward seemingly took it upon himself to make sure BYU could come out with a win. The big man posted a double-double, with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Harward’s performance led the Cougars to regain the lead and cruise to the win.
“One thing that sticks out to me [about Harward] is he’s such a team player,” Barcello, who finished with a team-high 19 points, said. ”The character, the energy, the enthusiasm that he brings to our team is just on another level. I think it really shows every game, as we’ve been progressing throughout the season, and I think it’s going to continue to show.”
Now that the Cougars are past the three-game road stint, Pope is excited to get the team back in the gym to see what they can learn from these games and how they can continue to improve.
“Overall, it’s just toughness man,” Pope said. “[The win is] a tribute to this locker room.”