BYU men's basketball: Cougars return home after splitting road trip to the Northwest
Jed Conklin, AP
PROVO — After splitting a pair of games on its Pacific Northwest road swing, BYU has returned home.
But only briefly.
The Cougars will play their third consecutive game away from the Marriott Center when they visit Pepperdine on Thursday (8 p.m. MST, Root Sports).
BYU (16-6, 6-2) had lost two of its previous three games before defeating Portland, 85-67, Saturday at the Chiles Center. On Thursday, the Cougars fell at No. 10 Gonzaga, 83-63.
The week before that, BYU suffered a heartbreaking loss at home to Saint Mary's, but responded well in a victory over San Diego.
In eight seasons under coach Dave Rose, BYU has lost back-to-back regular-season games just twice. The last time it happened was four years ago, when the Cougars dropped consecutive games to New Mexico and UNLV.
Once again, BYU bounced back Saturday.
Rose called it "a big win," as his team got that bad taste out of its mouth after the setback against the Zags.
"It feels great," said forward Brandon Davies, who scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Pilots. "You can't let one loss turn into two. We've seen a lot of good teams, Louisville and other teams — they're adding up losses right now, and that's one thing we didn't want to do, get on a losing skid."
Davies added that beating Portland helped his team's psyche.
"It's stings to come off a loss, especially against a great team. You have to put that in the past, as much as it hurts, and move forward and do whatever you can to get the next win. This is definitely a confidence boost. We had guys step up and play well."
Matt Carlino scored a season-high 24 points, dished out six assists and had four steals against the Pilots. He also made both of his 3-point attempts. In West Coast Conference games this season, Carlino is averaging 15.3 points and 5.1 assists.
Davies, meanwhile, posted his first double-double since BYU beat Northern Arizona on Dec. 27. It was also the first time he scored at least 20 points since that contest.
Tyler Haws, who went 0 for 9 from the floor against the Zags, was 5 for 14 against Portland, and finished with 19 points.
Asked about Haws' recent shooting slump (5 for 23 in the last two games), Rose replied, "I think that Ty's played so well that maybe the expectations are a little out of whack."
As a team, the Cougars shot 52 percent, outscored Portland in the paint, 32-24, and scored 24 points off of turnovers.
Pilot forward Ryan Nicholas recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Saturday's contest was marred somewhat by a scuffle with 14 minutes left in the second half when Portland guard Tanner Riley — who played just one minute — threw BYU guard Brock Zylstra to the ground after a wild scramble for a loose ball.
Riley was ejected, and as he walked off the court, he waved his arms theatrically as a mix of cheers and boos rained down on him. Riley's actions also resulted in an automatic one-game suspension, as per NCAA rules. There is a possibility of a longer suspension, pending a review by the WCC.
Meanwhile, the Cougars are looking forward to their next test, traveling to Pepperdine (10-10, 2-5), which lost Saturday at Saint Mary's, 84-72.
BYU beat the Waves at home Jan. 10, 76-51.
"There were some things that we did really well on this trip that we can evaluate and move forward with," Rose said of the Gonzaga and Portland games. "There are a lot of things we need to work on and get better at."
Following the meeting with Pepperdine, the Cougars host Santa Clara on Saturday.
At Portland, Davies hurt his right ankle — the same one he injured a month ago — with about five minutes remaining, but he returned and finished the game. Davies said he'll be ready to go Thursday.
"Those (road games) are the toughest ones to get. It's always good to go into other people's buildings and get a solid win. We love playing at home as well, but you've got to handle business on the road."
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