LOS ANGELES — BYU continued its farewell tour through the West Coast Conference Thursday night, and the Cougars were reminded how teams like Loyola Marymount want to get their licks in before BYU moves on to the Big 12 next season.

The Lions haven’t forgotten what happened on their home floor last year, when the Cougars rallied from a 17-point second half deficit to earn a thrilling 83-82 victory here. 

This time, a physical LMU team avenged that loss, outmuscling BYU at Gersten Pavilion, while earning numerous trips to the free throw line, to hand the Cougars a 64-59 setback and snap their seven-game winning streak. 

“They just played super hard,” guard Spencer Johnson said of LMU. “You could tell they wanted this game really, really badly.”

That manifested itself in grabbing key offensive rebounds and getting to the charity stripe. The Lions not only equaled BYU in rebounding, 35-35, but they also hit 15 of 23 from the free throw line, compared to just 5 of 9 for the Cougars. That disparity helped spell the difference.

“They were a lot more physical than us. They held us to eight offensive rebounds, our season-low. We just couldn’t manage that,” Pope said.

“We fouled way too much. We fouled 21 fouls to their 12. We’ve got to find a way to guard without fouling. We sent them to the free throw line 23 times and we went only nine times ourselves. We’ve got to earn more fouls on our side. Those were problematic.”

BYU trailed 62-57 when LMU forward Keli Leaupepe converted a putback with 3:02 remaining. Leaupepe also drew a foul and though he missed his free throw, he scored another layup with 1:57 remaining. 

Leaupepe finished with a game-high 15 points and grabbed four rebounds. 

“The biggest play of the game was an offensive rebound that was there for the taking and we just couldn’t come up with it and there were a bunch of guys on the floor,” Pope said.

“He’s just a good player. He’s a veteran player. He’s got a lot of physicality and we’ve got to learn to match it and learn to match his toughness.”

BYU was led by Gideon George and Fousseyni Traore, who each scored 13 points. Dallin Hall added 10.

But unlike so many other games this season, the Cougars were unable to dominate on the boards. 

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“One thing we talked about was rebounding. We try to get at least double-digit rebounds. We didn’t quite get there. We sent them to the free throw line so many times. That killed us, honestly,” Johnson said.

“They were very physical. We did have 13 turnovers, which is something we can be positive about. It was a frustrating game in terms of, they were super physical and then on the flip side, maybe we tried to be as well but we just sent them to the free throw line a lot, which was the story of the game.”

LMU (12-5, 2-1) handed BYU (12-6, 2-1) its first WCC loss of the season and also halted the Cougars’ seven-game winning streak. It marked BYU’s first loss since falling 75-60 at home to UVU on Dec. 7. 

“It hurts. Losing is never fun,” Johnson said about the end of the winning streak. “Winning is really hard. Seven in a row is a big accomplishment by these guys. It hurts for sure.”

BYU shot just 37.5% in the second half and made only 2 of 13 3-pointers. LMU shot 46.2% in the second half and knocked down 7 of 25 3s. 

The Cougars’ offense was out of sync most of the night. They had only 10 assists on 26 made baskets. 

“We were just so limited with our movement on offense,” Pope said. “We allowed ourselves to get stuck. We didn’t beat their physicality with our pace and movement.

“We kind of succumbed to their physicality … There are a lot of things offensively that we can clean up and do better. We’ve just got to play better. We’ll play better.”

On the bright side for BYU, it had only 13 turnovers, which is progress for a team that has had 20-plus turnovers multiple times in games this season. 

“I like the fact that we only had 13 turnovers. That’s super important for us,” Pope said. “I felt like defensively, we fought. We just weren’t quite good enough.”

What did the Cougars learn from this painful loss? 

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“Definitely take care of the ball like we did this game. It’s something that we can take going forward. We’ve just got to guard without fouling,” Johnson said.

“It’s a big thing for us to take the next step as a team. We’ve all got to take it upon ourselves, every guy, to just guard without fouling. We just can’t send them to the free throw line so much.”

BYU visits San Diego Saturday. 

TIP-INS: The Cougars are 9-3 at Gersten Pavilion since joining the WCC in 2011-12 … BYU outscored LMU in the paint, 46-29 … The Lions outscored the Cougars in fastbreak points, 15-5. 

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