PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s basketball team could not hold off a late San Diego State rally and fell 76-71 to the Aztecs at the Marriott Center on Saturday.
Jake Toolson made seven of 13 attempts from the field to lead the Cougars with 18 points while also recording four assists, four rebounds and two steals. TJ Haws and Alex Barcello both reached double digits in scoring with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Haws led the team with six assists while Barcello a forced a team-high three turnovers.
Barcello helped BYU (1-1) to an early 3-0 advantage over San Diego State (2-0) after splitting a pair of free throws and making a backdoor layup. The Aztecs answered, outscoring the Cougars 10-1 to take a 10-4 lead five minutes into the game. Jake Toolson quickly responded with a driving layup and Connor Harding knocked down a corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to a single point, 10-9.
Trailing 17-11 midway through the half, Kolby Lee knocked down two free throws and Haws hit a pull up jumper at the top of the key to make it a two-point game. San Diego State maintained its lead and pulled away to increase its lead back to six points. Dalton Nixon scored from behind the arc and Barcello made a layup to bring the Cougars back within one point, 21-20, with six minutes remaining in the first period.
Haws scraped off of a screen from Lee and hit a trey from the wing to tie the game up at 23-all with 5:24 until half. BYU couldn’t take the lead as the Aztecs hit a quick shot from downtown to jumpstart a 9-4 run. Harding scored the last six points in the period for the Cougars as San Diego State entered the break with the 36-29 edge.
Barcello recorded three steals helping BYU force eight turnovers in the first half of play while Harding led the team with nine points. The Aztecs out-rebounded the Cougars 20-9 in the period while shooting 48.3 percent from the field.
After the two teams traded baskets to start the second half, Lee was fouled after scoring in the post and hit his free throw to convert the three-point play. Zac Seljaas hit a 3-pointer on the following possession before Haws stole the ball near midcourt and made an easy lay in to cut the lead to 40-39.
On the ensuring offensive possession, Toolson scored a contested 3-point shot to give BYU the 42-40 advantage and the Cougars’ first lead since the 18:17 mark in the first half. Seljaas made another basket from behind the arc along with a layup to cap off a 16-0 run and extend BYU’s lead to 47-40 five minutes into the second half.
Barcello and Toolson both hit 3-pointers to help BYU extend its lead to nine points, 52-43. The Aztecs countered with an 8-2 run to bring the game within two points, 54-52. Toolson made his second 3-pointer of the game and Nixon hit a pair of jumpers to maintain a 61-54 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
San Diego State tied the game up at 65-all with three minutes left on the clock. Haws made a layup to reclaim the lead before stealing the ball on the ensuing defensive possession and laying it off to Barcello under the hoop for a basket to secure the 69-65 lead.
The Aztecs scored a 3-pointer and made a pair of free throws to take back the lead 70-69 with 1:26 on the clock. San Diego State made another shot from behind the arc to make it a four-point game with 51 seconds remaining.
With 32 seconds left, Toolson drove the baseline for a dunk to bring the Cougars within two points. However, the comeback fell short as BYU failed to score again while the Aztecs made their free throws to ice the game and claim the 76-71 victory.
The Cougars will remain at home to host Southern Utah in the Marriott Center on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on BYUtv while radio broadcasts will be available on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM. Tickets can be purchased on byutickets.com.