Cummard posted a career high 36 points at the season opener against Long Beach State Friday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- In its season opener against Long Beach State (0-1), the BYU men’s basketball team (1-0) came out victorious with a final score of 75-65, leading the series 5-4.
“I’m really proud of our players as a group,” said BYU men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose. “We did a lot of good things as a team.”
Wooden Award candidate Lee Cummard dominated the game with back-to-back three pointers and shot accuracy to produce 22 of the first 31 points for BYU in the first half against LBSU.
“I just felt fortunate to make my shots,” said Cummard. “I was trying not to look up [at the scoreboard] and see what I was doing. We were playing at our pace in the second half and expending just as much energy on the defensive end as we were on offense.”
With a total of 36 points, Cummard earned the title of the most points scored by a BYU basketball player since Russell Larson in 1993.
“Lee was incredible tonight,” said junior forward Jonathan Tavernari. “I say thanks to Lee for showing up in the first half.”
It was Tavernari who got Cougar fans to their feet early on, starting off the season-opener with a dunk, leveling out the score 2-2.
Despite opening with a bang and a seven-point run, BYU was unable to hold the momentum of the home-court. The 49ers fought back closing in from behind and eventually taking the lead 15-12.
The remainder of the first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams with neither one able to gain a lead of more than 5 points. Unfortunately BYU could not pull ahead, going into the second half trailing 31-38.
Determined to claim a win, the Cougars came into the second half, taking the first lead of the night 41-40 due to a layup by Cummard.
From there, BYU continued to gain momentum and continuously steal the lead giving Cougar fans the show they came to see.
In the final seconds of the game the Cougars were able to hold back the 49ers bringing their field goal percentage down from 46.9% in the first half, to 34.5% in the second and earn their greatest lead of the lead of the night at 10 points with the final score 75-65.
Cummard led the Cougars with a double-double in total points (36) and rebounds (11). He also led in three pointers. Chalking up the second-most points of the night was Tavernari with 19. Tavernari also led in assists (five) and came in second for rebounds with seven.
“We have a lot of work to do but I’m proud of our players,” said Rose. “It’s a learning process. Hopefully on Tuesday we will be a better team.”
The Cougars will travel to Pepperdine Tuesday to play the Greenwave at 6 p.m. MT.