PORTLAND, Ore. — Once again, BYU's offense was struggling in the first half on the road.
So, once again, coach Dave Rose called upon Craig Cusick, and Cusick delivered.
The junior guard came off the bench to score 10 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers. His second 3-pointer put the Cougars up 21-14, and BYU ended up defeating Portland, 79-60, Saturday at the Chiles Center.
Cusick turned in similar performances in road games at Utah and Loyola Marymount this season.
"Coach put me in — I have to make the most of it," Cusick said. "It was hard for us to get into a rhythm. We were able to fight through it."
For the game, the Cougars hit just 3-of-16 from 3-point territory.
"Hopefully we can get it going (from 3-point range) because we have good shooters," Cusick said.
Rose said his players know they can count on Cusick.
"He's a guy that everybody's developing a lot of confidence in," he said.
Opposing teams are learning that they can't ignore Cusick's ability to score.
"They have to respect Craig when he comes in there," said forward Brandon Davies.
HOLMOE ON THE WCC: BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was interviewed for a story in Saturday's local paper about the Cougars' inaugural season in the West Coast Conference.
"I've been pleasantly surprised," Holmoe told The Oregonian. "We might not look the part because of the size of our student body, a bigger arena and we play football. But we feel like part of this conference. I like that we have to earn our stripes. I don't think some of our fans knew how good this conference was."
Portland coach Eric Reveno said the addition of BYU makes the league more intriguing.
"I don't know that BYU raises the bar, because Saint Mary's and Gonzaga already play at a high level," he said. "I feel like BYU livens up the story a little bit. It makes our league a bigger story."
Of course, Holmoe was asked about the possibility of BYU leaving the WCC for another conference.
"It would be foolish to keep my blinders on. It's up to me as athletic director to keep my eyes open," Holmoe said. "But the important thing for us is that we have a home in the WCC right now. We're not looking to go anywhere."
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