PROVO — With front court players Dalton Nixon, Braiden Shaw and Ryan Andrus sidelined due to injuries, BYU forward Payton Dastrup filled various roles in last Saturday’s 77-65 victory over archrival Utah.
Dastrup came off the bench and drilled two big 3-pointers late in the game, drove to the hoop for another basket and grabbed a couple of crucial rebounds for the Cougars. He finished with a season-high eight points.
Dastrup entered the game having scored 21 points all season.
“It felt great. I’ve always been a team-first guy,” said the 6-foot-10 sophomore from Mesa, Arizona. “I know when I get my chance, I need to make the most of it. The coaches continue to give me more trust every single game. Ultimately, I just do it for my guys because they’ve got my back and I’ve got their back. We’re in this together.”
Certainly, performing like that against Utah meant a lot to Dastrup. With the win, the Cougars halted a three-game losing streak to the Utes.
“It was very emotional. (Saturday) was something special,” Dastrup said. “I’ve been a bleed-blue guy since birth, pretty much. To be able to get a chance to experience the rivalry firsthand, to play in this game and come through clutch in some situations was special. I’ll never forget this moment.”
“I know this guy, Payt, has been ready since he was three to play this game,” said guard Elijah Bryant, who scored 29 points and hit five 3-pointers and ended up earning West Coast Conference player of the week honors.
BYU, which has won six consecutive games, hosts Idaho State on Thursday.
JAHSHIRE DELIGHT: Sophomore guard Jahshire Hardnett, a transfer from Chipola College in Florida, quietly has been a steady player for BYU this season.
Hardnett has started the last eight games. He’s averaging 25.1 minutes, 6.2 points and 2.1 assists.
Hardnett has made 25 of 55 shots from the field, 4 of 14 from 3-point range and 14 of 15 from the free throw line. He scored a career-high 11 points against Weber State.
Against Utah, Hardnett scored five points, dished out four assists, and his drive to the basket and subsequent free throw extended BYU’s lead to 13 with less than four minutes remaining.
“He’s good with the ball in his hand. He’s a pass-first guy. He’s a good free throw shooter and has real respect for the possession, which we really like,” coach Dave Rose said earlier this season. “He’s a likeable guy and gets along with everyone on the team. That’s a skill, too, to come in, mix with a bunch of guys and then fit well and play well with them. To this point, Jahshire will be a big part of what we’re doing. At least we hope so.”
Hardnett, who started his career as a redshirt at Fordham before transferring to Chipola, said he feels comfortable in Provo.
“I feel like I’ve found a home now. When you go to junior college, you know you’re leaving after a year,” Hardnett said. “At Fordham, I knew I was going to transfer. So right now, I feel like I’m at home and I’ll be here the next three years.”
ROC POWER: As expected, BYU’s student section, also known as Roar of Cougars (ROC) was loud throughout the game against Utah.
The Cougars say they fed off the crowd's energy.
“We have one of the best student sections in the nation, so we try to use that to our advantage,” Bryant said. “The ROC came out and really helped us get this win.”