BYU wins again, stays unbeaten against Weber State at the Marriott Center
By Tom Ripplinger
BYU finished its nonconference schedule Thursday evening with a 63-57 win over Weber State in Provo.
The Cougars had to fight to the very end, needing an offensive rebound from Gideon George and two made free throws from Jaxson Robinson in the final seconds to put the game out of reach.
“The biggest play of the game I think is G coming up with that rebound at the end of the game,” forward Noah Waterman said. “We needed that, and he just came through.”
BYU outrebounded Weber State 39-27 and outscored the Wildcats by 11 in second chance points.
“We definitely focused on rebounding,” Waterman said. “We’re a great rebounding team. It all just comes down to just our effort.”
Both teams played well on the defensive side of the ball. BYU’s 63 points is the fewest it has scored in a victory since the first game of the season against Idaho State, and Weber State’s 57 points were the lowest the Cougars have held an opponent since their contest with the Bengals.
“One of the things I was super proud of the guys doing, that we talked about a lot, was this idea of guarding their yard,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “These guys really responded tonight by keeping guys in front of them.”
The Cougars held Weber State to a 39.6 field goal percentage and blocked eight shots. Fousseyni Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki each finished the night with three blocks, and George had the other two.
Traore also led the Cougars in points for the second game in a row, scoring 17 to go along with eight rebounds. Waterman was not far behind, chipping in 14 points and eight rebounds of his own.
Pope praised Waterman for his impressive night on the glass.
“People said Noah couldn’t rebound when he came here,” the coach said. “This dude is putting on a clinic rebounding the ball.”
BYU’s matchup with the Wildcats was the Cougars’ fourth game since last Thursday. They won all four contests as part of a five-game win streak, their longest of the year.
Weber State entered Thursday evening on a three-game win streak. The Wildcats came to Provo fresh off their biggest win of the season, a come-from- behind victory that saw them erase an 18-point deficit against then-undefeated Utah State in Logan.
Against BYU, the Wildcats fell behind by 10 in the second half, but clawed their way back to within one point.
“Weber is on fire right now,” Pope said. “They’re shooting the ball great, they’re playing at a high level, they’re just coming off an epic win. … It was great for us to grind out a win.”
BYU started slow, but outscored Weber State 19-8 in the final 9:26 of the first half to take a 29-24 lead into the break.
The Cougars then clung to their lead the entirety of the second half despite the Wildcats keeping things close.
With the win, the Cougars move to 3-1 in games played against in-state competition, while the Wildcats fall to 1-2 in those games.
Weber State remains winless all-time against BYU in Provo, with the Cougars picking up their 23rd home win over the Wildcats.
After Thursday, BYU holds a four-game win streak over Weber State.
Pope feels that this game in particular will be a benefit to his team moving forward.
“This very much felt like three or four teams in the WCC where it just turns into a slugfest,” he said, “so this is a real gift for us to tear up this film … pick it to pieces and really use it as a teaching experience for our guys.”
BYU will begin its last season of West Coast Conference play in one week on the road against Pacific. The Cougars narrowly lost to the Tigers in Stockton a season ago.
Weber State’s next contest, its first of conference play, will also be in a week when it faces Northern Colorado at the Dee Events Center.