LOS ANGELES — Not that he necessarily was trying to, but BYU guard Alex Barcello gave his girlfriend a nice, early Valentine’s Day gift Thursday night.
Barcello tied a career-high with 18 points, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, as part of a night that saw the Cougars break a school record by knocking down 18 3-pointers in a 77-54 victory, breaking Loyola Marymount’s heart on the night before Valentine’s Day.
Barcello’s girlfriend, Zoe Simpson, who’s from Arizona, was in attendance at Gersten Pavilion. Asked if his stellar performance had something to do with her, Barcello smiled.
“Not really. I’m glad I played well in front of her. I was just trying to let the game come to me,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to let any distractions get into the game, like, ‘I need to shoot more because she’s here.’ … I was just trying to let the game come to me and make the smartest play. My teammates found me in the right spots. They trust me to shoot so I was just letting it go and thankfully, a lot of them went in.”
Coach Mark Pope joked that Barcello “just decided he’s not going to miss anymore.”
During an 11-minute stretch in the second half that saw BYU pull away from LMU, which included a decisive 26-6 run, Barcello drilled four 3-pointers.
“I’m so proud of him. He works so hard. That’s the danger of this team,” said TJ Haws, who scored 17 points on 4 of 8 shooting from 3-point territory. “Anybody can make six 3s on any night. He shot the ball extremely well. It’s a great night for him.”
The Cougars buried 12 3-pointers in the second half and six different players made at least one 3-pointer on the night.
“In the second half, we did a nice job of being aggressive for each other and making plays for each other,” Pope said.
BYU missed its first five 3-pointers of the game, and seven of its first eight attempts, but nothing can deter this team from hoisting open 3s.
“You stay confident. Coach always says to own your shot,” Haws said. “We kept taking good shots and finding the open guy. We have confidence that those shots are going to fall.”
Twice this season, BYU, which leads the nation in 3-point shooting, had tied the school record with 17 3s, against Virginia Tech and Pepperdine.
“These guys have been knocking on the door. We’ve gotten to 17 a couple of times,” Pope said. “I’m just proud of how they’re doing it. They’re doing it by earning shots for each other. That’s pretty special that they’re committed to doing that. What nice is, we got a school-record 18 3s on a night when we started 1 for 8.”
For the game, the Cougars hit 18 of 40 3-pointers (45%), better than their shooting performance on 2-point shots (7 of 20 for 35%). BYU ended up making 25 of 60 overall from the field (41.7%). That ended a streak of nine games of shooting 50% or higher from the field, which had tied a school record.
BYU set the 3-point record with 19 seconds remaining, when senior walk-on Evan Troy buried a 3 from the corner.
“It’s unbelievable. We knew that we were getting close (to the record),” Barcello said. “When Evan hit that, everybody just went nuts. I think I was the most hyped because he’s my roommate. I was so proud of him that he hit that. The guys are really happy.”
“I’m so happy for him. We have spectacular walk-ons,” Pope said of Troy. “For him to bang that last one was really special. Forever, he’s going to be able to claim, ‘We had 18 and I got the 18th.’”
Meanwhile, forward Yoeli Childs, who went just 3 of 11 from the field, earned his own milestone. In the second half, he reached the 1,000-rebound mark for his career. He’s the only BYU player to score 1,800 career points and grab 1,000 career boards.
But this night will be remembered for a record-setting night — 18 3-pointers.
“It’s awesome. This team, we share the ball so well. We take open shots and we take good shots,” Haws said. “I’m just proud to be on this team. I’m proud of the way we fought tonight. Our unselfishness and the way we share the ball, it’s fantastic.”