Lohner's career night leads Cougars to victory over Long Beach State




PROVO, Utah – No. 2 seed BYU rode a career-high 20 points from Caleb Lohner and a 21-0 second half run on route to a 93-72 win over Long Beach State in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.

“I think we had a little bit of fun tonight," Lohner said. "It took us a while to kind of get it turned on and start playing like us, but I think that’s just some of the emotion going into it. I think we ended the game on a high note and now we’re going to the next round.”

The Cougars found themselves down by as many as eight in the first half as Long Beach State controlled the pace of the game with a frenetic three-quarter court press that frustrated the BYU offense. The Beach clung to their first half lead with a generous helping of trips to the free-throw line. LBSU shot 17-for-19 from the stripe in the first half to 7-for-9 for the Cougars.  

BYU trailed 46-41 at the half.

Minutes into the second half, the tide turned on The Beach as the Cougars roared to life on both sides of the floor with an 8-0 run.

Alex Barcello shed a defender and banked home a jumper, tying the game at 52. On the ensuing Beach possession, Spencer Johnson drew a charge, returning the ball to Barcello for a 3-pointer that gave BYU its first lead since 2-0.

Johnson again made his presence felt on the defensive end as he refused to back-down on a point-blank shot attempt from Long Beach State. The shot rolled out and the Cougars made quick work of delivering the ball to Caleb Lohner for hook shot that gave BYU a game-high lead of 57-52.

After a brief LBSU response, the Cougars took command of the game with a season-long 21-0 scoring run.

Gideon George scored in the paint and from deep while finding Barcello camped out on the wing for a trey of his own. Trevin Knell fed Fousseyni Traore for the dunk on one end of the floor, then followed it up by taking a charge on the other. Johnson again made an impact during the run, as he turned a Beach turnover into points on a fast-break and knocked down a 3-pointer.

BYU controlled the game the rest of the way, allowing freshmen Trey Stewart, Nate Hansen and Casey Brown to see action in the game’s final minutes.

The Cougars shot 55 percent for the game, while holding LBSU to 33 percent and 13 percent from distance. BYU fired-away to the tune of 44 percent from beyond the arc in the second half and 36 percent for the game. The Cougars also outrebounded the Beach 45-30 and shared the ball for 28 assists compared to four from LBSU.

Perhaps no stat was more impactful than the Cougars’ trimming their turnovers from 14 in the first half to four in the second.

Lohner led all BYU scorers with a career-high 20 on 9-of-11 shooting and four rebounds. George and Barcello followed with 16 and 14 points, respectively, while Traore totaled 11 points and seven rebounds. Traore’s three blocks on the night are tied for second all-time at BYU in blocks recorded in an NIT game.

Trevin Knell came off the bench for 10 points and four assists. Atiki Ally Atiki found holes in the paint and scored eight points with a career-high nine rebounds. Te’Jon Lucas scored six points while dishing out seven assists.

BYU advances to the second round of the NIT and will face Northern Iowa at the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. MDT on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and fans can listen to the matchup with the Panthers live on BYU Radio, BYU Sports Network and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.