PROVO — The Dons were an unstoppable trolley car.
BYU didn’t stand a chance.
San Francisco had never beaten a Dave Rose basketball team. In fact, the Dons had dealt with nothing but heartache from Rose squads since the Cougars entered the WCC.
Until Saturday night in the Marriott Center.
San Francisco blistered the nets, converting 9 of 10 second-half 3-point shots in a 60-point second half that buried the Cougars in their own gym, 99-87. The Dons would have scored 100 if somebody didn't brick a free throw in the closing seconds.
In all, San Francisco made 14 of 23 shots from beyond the arc. It was a show. It was impressive. It’s something I’ve never seen in the Marriott Center, that kind of shooting in a 20-minute period.
It left BYU stunned, humbled and visibly shaken two days after losing at San Diego. The Cougars had no answer. They started poorly on 1 of 8 shooting, raced to a 15-point lead, led 48-39 at the half and then drowned in the wake thrown up by these Dons.
BYU looked tired and beat up. Emotionally, the Cougars have to be pistol-whipped.
The loss drops the Cougars to 18-8 overall and 8-4 in the WCC. It exposed every single one of BYU’s shortcomings: lack of rebounding, inability to guard the 3, poor shot selection and an extended slump by key players in the shooting department.
San Francisco made its run by spreading out the Cougars, moving the ball around and launching bombs that found their target as if guided by lasers.
Dons coach Rex Walters said his team had plenty of rest and more time to prepare for Rose, Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies. The rest was a factor, but he never imagined his team — even a team of shooters — would have that kind of night on the road at BYU, a team the Dons had never defeated in league play.
“We were making shots,” said Walters. “We spread them out and got good looks and made shots, even late in the shot clock. We got good looks and were patient and tough.”
Where the Dons made just 5 of 13 treys in the first half, they finished as hot as any team the Cougars have played in recent memory.
The Dons killed BYU by having a trio of players post career nights.
Chris Adams (5 of 6 from 3 for 17 points) had never scored more than 14. De’End Parker (8 of 11 from the field for 23) had the best shooting night of his career, percentage-wise. Avry Holmes (3 of 5 from distance and 8 of 10 from the line for 17 points) tied his career high in scoring. “As good as any of them have had in a SF uniform” is how Walters’ put it.
Had Walters ever had one of his team go 9 of 10 from beyond the arc in a half?
“I don’t know. No. But we were getting good looks. When we got them down, we spread them out and got looks. I’ve had nightmares of Matt Carlino hitting shots at the buzzer. It’s been frustrating for us. This is the best win I’ve had at San Francisco on the road since I’ve been here. This was a very big win against a very good team.”
Point guard Cody Doolin, who has been on the short end of some emotional losses to the Cougars, said plenty of his mates had career nights in Provo.
“Oh, man, we really got hot out there,” said Doolin.
“To beat a good team like that you have to shoot the ball really well, especially on the road. We really heated it up there at the end and we played very good defense when we went small and we rebounded well when we went small. That was a key.”
Doolin said he’s never been part of a team that went 9 of 10 from distance in a half. “No way, absolutely not. We did have LMU do something like that to us at their place last year.”
The Dons brought a fire truck. The Cougars rode a Mini.
BYU’s most-accurate shooters were senior Craig Cusick and Brock Zylstra. Cusick made 4 of 5 from the field and all three of his 3-pointers. Zylstra, who was 0 for 7 in Thursday’s loss at San Diego, made 2 of 3 treys in the first half, then missed his next three in the game. He led the Cougars with 18 points.
Carlino was 1 of 4 from distance and league scoring leader Tyler Haws was 0 for 4 in that column and just 4 of 16 from the field.
If you draw up a game plan and reserve Cusick and inconsistent Zylstra are your most accurate offensive weapons — no disrespect intended — Rose isn’t going to win many games on the road or at home.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at [email protected].