SPOKANE, Wash. BYU's basketball team has wandered around looking for a win for six outings dating back to last year, and they finally found the watering hole in Pac-10 territory Tuesday, defeating Washington State 76-68 before a crowd of 3,138 in Spokane Arena.
Brock Reichner led the Cougars with 18 points with Fernando Malaman adding 14 and Jimmy Balderson 12. The win lifted BYU to 1-1 on the season while WSU dropped to 1-1.
"Our concentration level is what I was most pleased with," BYU coach Dave Rose said. " It was much better than it was in our opener. I thought we did a much better job playing as a team. We weren't depending on one guy to make a play. Everyone shared the ball well."
The Cougars found a little of what they've been searching for in Tuesday's win. They got consistency from their offense, found a combination of players who worked well together, and had key defensive stops at crucial times.
The Spokane Arena proved a friendly stop for the Cougars, who never trailed in the game. The national anthem was performed by 61 LDS missionaries from the Spokane, Washington Mission, standing at mid-court in white shirts and ties. The crowd included several hundred BYU fans including the mother of Cougar starting guard Rashaun Broadus.
"We competed," Reichner said. "We came out and from the beginning to the end, we held the lead. Defensively, we knew who their big players were and what their tendencies were and we did the job. This was a team effort tonight. The guys coming off the bench hit big baskets in key moments, and we came out with a big win."
WSU and BYU waged a furious battle in the final five minutes of the game. At one point the two teams combined to make nine consecutive field goals five for WSU and four by BYU. At that stage of the contest, with BYU up anywhere from three to seven points, and both teams were shooting 56 percent from the field.
BYU pulled away by making 9 of 18 from the 3-point line with three fewer turnovers 17-14. The game marked the first time in 17 games WSU lost when out-rebounding an opponent. The home team had 23 to BYU's 22 boards.
Reichner, Keena Young and Broadus combined to make 6 of 8 free throws in the final 42 seconds to seal the Cougar win.
Reichner knocked down a bomb with 3:35 to play, lifting the Cougars to a 68-61 lead that WSU could not overcome.
BYU's largest lead of the game came on a Young tip-in of a missed Broadus fast-break lay-in at 11:54 to give the visiting Cougars a 49-40 lead.
The Cougars led Washington State wire to wire and built a 34-30 advantage on a runner by Austin Ainge just before the halftime buzzer. That is the most the Cougars had scored in a half including two exhibition games this season.
Broadus and Malaman knocked down early back-to-back treys to give the Cougars a 14-6 lead.
But the story of the game was the tough play of Rose's son-in-law Reichner, who started his second straight game. Reichner hit four of his first seven shots, including a pair of bombs. Reichner not only made the most buckets, but took the most shots in the first half, scoring 10, one more than his career-high at Utah last season. Reichner also took the load of the work guarding WSU's top scorer, Josh Akognon, who went without a first-half field goal and ended with just two field goals after scoring 22 against UC Riverside. Malaman hit all three of his shots in the first half.
The Cougars led by eight points twice before Washington State went on a 10-4 to cut the BYU lead to four at the end of 20 minutes. BYU built that lead after being outshot from the field 62 percent to 56 percent, but made 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, while turning the ball over four fewer times.
Rose started Broadus at the point with Reichner and Balderson at the wings, Malaman at power forward and Trent Plaisted at center.
Plaisted picked of three fouls in just over 80 seconds in the second half, sitting with his fourth with 14:12 to play. Rose elected to put in Young for Plaisted, moving Malaman to the post instead of freshman David Burgess, who came down with the flu on the road trip.Before Tuesday, the last time BYU won before was on Valentine's Day in the Marriott Center against Colorado State.