It had been 19 long days since BYU had won a basketball game. 

But the Cougars snapped their three-game losing streak — and ended Loyola Marymount’s four-game winning streak — in resounding fashion Thursday at the Marriott Center.

BYU jumped out to a strong start, took control early, increased their lead to as many as 30 late in the second half, and tamed the Lions 89-61. 

Less than a week after enduring a painful one-point loss to then-No. 22 Saint Mary’s, the Cougars crushed third-place LMU — the same team that halted Gonzaga’s 75-game homecourt winning streak a couple of weeks ago — in a game they never trailed. 

And BYU avenged a 64-59 loss to the Lions in Los Angeles on Jan. 5. 

Pope had called LMU “the hottest team” in the West Coast Conference earlier in the week. The Lions were seeking their fifth consecutive WCC win in a row for the first time since 1991.

But the Cougars cooled off LMU like an arctic blast. 

“It’s huge. LMU is a really good team, really good in our league. It was a great win for us,” said guard Spencer Johnson, who scored a team-high 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field. “Winning just makes you feel good. It rights the ship. It highlights the point that we can play with anybody in this league. We’ve shown that. To get this win was just really reassuring of that.”

The Cougars turned in one of their best overall performances of the season and their most efficient from an offensive standpoint. 

BYU (15-10, 5-5) had a season-low seven turnovers — the first time all year it has had single-digit turnovers in a game — and the Cougars shot nearly 54% from the field while holding LMU to 38% shooting. BYU outscored the Lions (16-8, 6-4) in the paint 38-18. 

Cougar forward Fousseyni Traore recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Jaxson Robinson and Rudi Williams came off the bench to score 13 points apiece. 

“I’m super excited about the contrast between the game we played at LMU a month ago and the game today,” Pope said. “We talk about how we’re so hungry to get better and we believe we’re getting better. Sometimes immediate results can be tricky. We lost a game last week that could trick us into feeling that we’re not getting better. These guys’ execution was so much better in understanding what we’re trying to do and then being able to execute it, is a world of difference when we compare the offensive film at their place and the offensive film here.”

Pope used his eighth different lineup of the season Thursday as Noah Waterman started in place of Robinson. Robinson, Waterman and Atiki Ally Atiki did not play in last Saturday’s loss to the Gaels because they broke a team rule. 

Waterman, who started for the first time since BYU’s loss at LMU in Los Angeles, helped set the tone early against LMU, scrambling after loose balls. He finished with five points, two rebounds and two steals.

“The feel of the game, it all started when Noah dove on the floor and got a couple of loose balls. That got us feeling really good,” Johnson said. “We were like, ‘Hey, we’re here to win.’ It just got us into a really good rhythm. Super proud of all the guys. Seven turnovers as a team is incredible. Taking care of the ball, really proud of them.”

“I was really proud of (Waterman) tonight,” Pope said. “I thought he came in with terrific focus and he played really hard.”

Robinson ended up knocking down 3 of 4 from 3-point range. 

3 keys to BYU’s win over Loyola Marymount

If BYU was experiencing any type of hangover after that demoralizing one-point loss to Saint Mary’s Saturday, it didn’t show.

The Cougars raced out to an 11-3 lead in the game’s opening minutes. Later, during a two-minute stretch, BYU saw Robinson and Richie Saunders combined for 12 straight Cougar points. After a Dallin Hall 3-pointer, BYU seized a 20-point lead, 33-13. Traore finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in the first half. 

The Cougars led at halftime 45-27. 

“Spence had great back-to-back possessions at the end of the first half,” Pope said. “He kept his dribble alive, all the way baseline, jumped in the air and turned the ball over. Then the very next possession, he made a really terrific, simple play where he penetrated baseline and we ended up with a great shot out of it. That’s the evolution of our team. And it’s exciting.”

Johnson said his team has been able to bounce back after tough losses this season because it is focused on improving. 

“One thing we always talk about, that coach Pope does a really good job of, is hey, if we had ended up beating Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s, we were going to come back the next day and do the exact same thing that we did when we lost, which is come back and work,” Johnson said. “Big credit to all of our guys, our staff. We came back and we worked and we got better and we stayed positive and figured it out. That’s all you can do.”

BYU not only took advantage of an excellent first half, but it sustained its high-level of play during the second half, and did not allow the Lions to get back into the game at any point. 

“The story of our season has been, we’re getting better since the beginning of the year til now,” Johnson said. “Every game, we’re trying to get a little bit better. This is a step we needed to take where we had a lead and then we needed to figure out how to increase it and finish the game. We did a really good job. We took a really positive step forward that way as a team.”

And that’s how the Cougars put an end to their three-game losing streak. 

TIP-INS: Announced attendance was 13,363 … This weekend, all the WCC men’s and women’s basketball teams are wearing No. 6 warmup shirts to honor the life and legacy of Bill Russell, who starred at San Francisco and led the Dons to the 1955 and 1956 national championships. Russell died on July 31 … Traore recorded his 14th career double-double … Robinson extended his 3-point streak to 12 games … With 13 points Thursday, Williams has scored 1,900 points during his collegiate career.