BYU basketball: Craig Cusick's shooting breaks scoring log jam
LOS ANGELES — While BYU struggled mightily shooting from the outside Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion, one Cougar did not.
Guard Craig Cusick came off the bench and knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers that turned a one-point deficit into a five-point advantage against Loyola Marymount. It was a lead BYU did not relinquish in an eventual 73-65 victory.
"The two three's that Craig hit to get us from a one-point deficit to a five-point lead were really, really big," said coach Dave Rose. "It was a big lift for us."
As a team, the Cougars made just 5-of-20 shots from 3-point territory. Cusick drilled all three of his 3-point attempts.
"We shoot a lot better when we get inside-outside shots," said forward Noah Hartsock. "Craig was able to hit some big shots for us to get us going."
Cusick was just happy to contribute.
"In away games, sometimes it's hard to get going as a team," he said. "The second half was a lot better than the first half. In the second half, I was fortunate to get open shots. They had to double down on our big guys because they were doing so well. They kicked the ball out and I was open a few times and I was fortunate make a few shots tonight."
Cusick, who has seen his playing time go down since starter Matt Carlino became eligible, has maintained a team-first attitude.
"It's good to have Carlino back, but at the same time, I just need to keep my focus," he said. "I'm trying to keep the team perspective. I'm not thinking about my own personal minutes. When I'm out there on the floor I'm trying to (take) advantage of those minutes I do get. I trust our coaches. The minutes will work out for themselves."
HARTSOCK HONORED: Hartsock, who scored a team-high 21 points, earned West Coast Conference's player of the month for December, the league announced Thursday.
Hartsock averaged 17.9 points per game on 58 percent shooting, while pulling down six rebounds per game in leading the Cougars to a 7-2 month. The Bartlesville, Okla., native scored 19 or more points five times during the month, and hit 38-of-45 free throws. Hartsock blocked 15 shots during the month, including four in a victory over Oregon and four in a win at Utah.
ROGERS IS BACK: Junior forward Stephen Rogers played for the first time since undergoing knee surgery after the Utah game in mid-December.
Rogers played seven minutes, and missed all three of his shot attempts, though he did hit two free throws.
"I'm glad we got him on the floor," Rose said. "I'm glad he got to feel it and got a couple of free throws to go in. I think he can really make some progress now."
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