BYU's Defense the Catalyst in Road Win at UC Santa Barbara | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU's Defense the Catalyst in Road Win at UC Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA -- A strong defensive effort helped compensate for BYU's poorest offensive performance of the season in a 57-48 road win at UC Santa Barbara Wednesday.

Although the Cougars set season lows in five offensive categories, including points scored (57) and field goal percentage (.296), they came up with 11 steals as part of a solid defensive performance while Mekeli Wesley (24 points) and Todd Christensen (13 points) provided enough offense to hold off the Gauchos.

"Defensively we did a good job keeping them out of their sets," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "The reason we won the game is because we defended. Offensively we just never got comfortable shooting the ball and this is a good shooting team. This is a tough place to shoot the ball. We just never had a flow or feel on offense, but if we had shot this poorly two years ago we would have lost by 30 points."

Neither the Cougars nor the Gauchos could get things going early as BYU scored a season-low 21 points at the half while Santa Barbara managed just 16. The Gauchos scored the first eight points of the game as BYU went nearly the first five minutes without scoring until reserve Nathan Cooper hit a jumper at the 15:09 mark. Cooper sparked an eight-point BYU run to tie the game, stealing a pass, forcing a turnover and providing a nice assist to Wesley for a three-point play on consecutive trips down the floor.

The Cougars, however, went nearly the next five minutes without scoring, which allowed the Gauchos to build a 13-8 advantage with 7:29 left in the half. BYU, a 48 percent shooting team coming into the game, couldn't buy a basket with only three field goals in its first 17 attempts. But a Christensen four-point play and Wesley three-point play gave the Cougars seven points in less than a minute and their first lead at 15-13. Christensen made two jumpers, the last at the halftime buzzer, between an Eric Nielsen layup to give BYU a 21-16 halftime edge.

The Cougars focused on getting Wesley touches inside in the second half and it paid off as their leading scorer responded with 16 second-half points on his way to a 24-point night. He was the only starter to score for BYU in the first half as Silester Rivers, Matt Montague, Michael Vranes and Terrell Lyday could not connect. It was the first time this year Lyday didn't score in the first 20 minutes. For the game, Lyday finished with eight points, including back-to-back three-pointers, while Vranes and Montague added three points each. Rivers did not score in 17 minutes of action.

The Cougars were a combined 16-54 from the floor, including 4-16 on treys, both season-low percentages. After having shot better than 50 percent as a team in five of their first 10 games, the Cougars didn't have a single player shoot better the 50 percent against UC Santa Barbara. Wesley was a team-best 7-15 and Christensen went 4-9 but the normally accurate Vranes and Lyday struggled with 1-9 and 2-11 nights, respectively. Despite the poor shooting, Vranes and Lyday found other ways to help the team. Vranes led the Cougars with three assists and nine rebounds, which tied his career high, while Lyday stole a career-high six passes. Nielsen, who will fly to Arizona in the morning for his wedding, also equaled a career-best with seven boards.

The Gauchos shot 40 percent from the floor and out rebounded the Cougars 41-36 but never took the lead in the second half, despite trimming the BYU advantage to four with just over a minute remaining. The Gauchos, who fall to 2-7 with the loss, committed 22 turnovers to the Cougars' 11.

The win improves the Cougars to 9-2 on the year and is the team's third road win of the season -- one better than the two road wins for all of last season. Coming off its win at Florida International last week, BYU has won back-to-back non-conference road games for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

After going 2-1 in its last three games on the road, BYU returns to Provo to host UC Irvine Jan. 5 in the Marriott Center.

Box Score (Final)

The Automated ScoreBook

BYU vs UC Santa Barbara (12-29-99)

VISITORS: BYU

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player FG FGA FG FGA FT FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

02 RIVERS, Silester.... f 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 2 2 4 0 0 2 1 0 17

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 7 15 0 1 10 15 3 3 6 4 24 1 2 1 0 33

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 1 9 0 2 1 2 3 6 9 0 3 3 2 0 0 26

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 2 11 2 6 2 4 0 4 4 3 8 2 2 0 6 31

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... g 0 0 0 0 3 4 0 2 2 2 3 2 2 0 0 25

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 4 9 2 6 3 3 0 0 0 2 13 1 1 0 2 23

10 ALLEN, John......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 3

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... 1 3 0 0 1 2 4 3 7 3 3 0 0 0 1 21

42 COOPER, Nathan...... 1 5 0 1 1 2 0 3 3 1 3 2 0 0 2 21

TM TEAM................ 2 2

Totals.............. 16 54 4 16 21 34 12 24 36 19 57 12 11 2 11 200

TOTAL FG%: .296 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG%: .250 REBOUNDS

F Throw %: .618 6

HOME TEAM: UC Santa Barbara

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player FG FGA FG FGA FT FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

30 Hull, Mark.......... f 2 5 0 0 0 0 3 3 6 3 4 3 2 0 0 32

45 Ndiaye, Adama....... f 6 10 0 0 1 3 1 6 7 4 13 0 2 2 0 25

50 Juliano Jordani..... f 0 5 0 3 1 4 1 4 5 3 1 0 4 0 0 25

11 Allen, Derrick...... g 1 2 0 1 1 2 0 4 4 5 3 1 6 0 1 32

32 Ashe, Erick......... g 4 10 1 5 6 7 0 5 5 2 15 4 3 0 0 24

03 Bryant, LeRon....... 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 4 4 3 5 1 1 0 0 15

20 Payton, Brandon..... 1 5 0 2 0 0 0 2 2 1 2 1 1 0 2 23

35 Ward, B.J........... 0 2 0 1 1 2 0 2 2 0 1 0 2 0 0 8

40 Vukovich, Mike...... 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 3 1 2 0 0 2 0 7

43 Carmichael, Ross.... 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 2 3 3 2 0 1 0 0 9

Totals.............. 18 45 2 13 10 19 8 33 41 25 48 10 22 4 3 200

TOTAL FG%: .400 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG%: .154 REBOUNDS

F Throw %: .526 4

Date: 12-29-99 Site: The Thunderdome, Santa Barbara, CA Attendance: 2891

Officials:

Technical fouls: BYU-, TEAM. UC Santa Barbara-None.

Score by Periods 1 2 Total

BYU................. 21 36 - 57

UC Santa Barbara.... 16 32 - 48