It was over from the beginning. At least for Loyola Marymount that is.
The moment the Cougars opened the game with a 7-0 run, it was obvious it was BYU’s game to lose. Although the final score of 88-71 may lead some to believe the game was closer than it was, the Cougars never struggled or even were in question of losing.
BYU (17-5; 8-3 WCC) wrapped up its two-game road stint with a dominating win over the Lions on Saturday in Los Angeles.
With the most recent win, the Cougars outscored opponents by a combined 45 points this week. After defeating Pacific by 28 points in Stockton on Thursday, BYU beat LMU by 17 points on Saturday, making it the most successful road swing by the Cougars this season.
However, the Cougars led LMU by as many as 32 points. And senior Matt Haarms believes the team could have ended stronger against the Lions.
“No doubt in my mind, we should have won by 30,” Haarms said. “We should have just sustained that lead. We had all the tools out there.”
Haarms was a huge part of the BYU offense, which shot 55% from the field. The big man scored a team-high 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting, along with five blocks, three assists and two rebounds.
Three other Cougars also scored in double digits: freshman Caleb Lohner added 18 points, while Alex Barcello had 15 points and Brandon Averette scored 14 points. Lohner’s performance comes off a career-best night at Pacific, when the freshman scored 19 points.
In fact, Saturday’s game closed out a six-game period in which the Cougars had a different leading scorer each time. Before Haarms and Lohner, BYU was led by Barcello, Gideon George, Averette and Spencer Johnson.
Because any one of the Cougars can take the reins on any given night, BYU coach Mark Pope believes it makes his team hard to scout.
“Clearly, we have to get better, but right now, at this point in the season, I am so proud of this group,” Pope said.
Another part of BYU’s success on Saturday came by the dominant presence in the paint, while still being able to have steady production from beyond the arc.
Nearly half of BYU’s points (36) came from the within the paint, the majority of which came from the big guys, but the Cougars also made nine of their 3-pointers.
Haarms was strong in the post, showcasing his growth from the start of the season. Pope said part of the focus over the Cougars’ 10-day break was to get Haarms to be more physical.
“Matt actually took some ownership of that and was called out a little bit,” Pope said. “It was a struggle, it was a fight, but he’s really embraced that. Clearly, he can get way better in terms of his physicality, but if you compare his physicality tonight and against Pacific to his physicality he displayed against Gonzaga, it’s light-years different.”
BYU will now return to Provo, where it will finish out the regular season with a pair of home games at the Marriott Center. The Cougars will face San Francisco on Thursday and Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
BYU beat both of those teams earlier this season on the road and will look to sweep the series.
“These teams have played us close at their place,” Haarms said. “... So we know they are very talented teams. You can’t take anything for granted.”