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3 keys in the BYU Cougars’ 28-point win over the Portland Pilots

Brigham Young Cougars center Richard Harward (42) gets ready to shoot over Portland Pilots forward Mikey Henn (24) at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Brigham Young Cougars center Richard Harward (42) gets ready to shoot over Portland Pilots forward Mikey Henn (24) at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

In BYU’s first game at home in a month, the Cougars dialed up a strong second half in running away from Portland 95-67 at the Marriott Center on Thursday night.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Domination in the paint

BYU (12-3, 3-1 West Coast Conference) owned the paint against Portland (6-8, 0-5 WCC), led by a strong overall night from Matt Haarms. The Cougar big man had a game-high 23 points — he shot 9 for 9 from the field — and added six rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal, as BYU had 42 points in the paint to 22 for Portland.

Richard Harward added 12 points and six rebounds for BYU, which outrebounded the Pilots 44-27. Guard Alex Barcello led the Cougars with a career-high eight rebounds.

Second-half surge

The Pilots kept the game close for a half — they trailed by six at the break — and stuck around in the opening minutes of the second half before the Cougars pulled away with an impressive shooting exhibition.

At one point in the second half, BYU made 14 of 15 shots and made 21 of 32 shots (65.6%) in the final 20 minutes — the Cougars shot 57.1% for the game. BYU outscored Portland 58-36 in the second half.

The Cougars also hit 9 of 17 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes — and 14 of 33 overall — as seven BYU players hit 3s, led by three each from Trevin Knell and Connor Harding.

A big assist

A big driving force behind the Cougars’ offensive showcase was the team’s ability to share the ball. BYU had 28 assists on 36 made field goals, including 17 in the second half.

Two Cougars finished with six assists — Barcello, who also scored 10 points, and Caleb Lohner, who added nine points and six rebounds.