Basketball season ends with 77-58 loss to Washington State in NIT


Notes & Quotes

PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball concluded its season with a 77-58 loss to Washington State in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament at the Marriott Center on Wednesday night.

“Certainly a disappointing way to end the season, but congratulations to Washington State," said BYU head coach Mark Pope. "In terms of my team and this season, I am really proud of these guys. They had unbelievable fight and heart and they kept coming back through adversity. We won a lot of games and I’m really proud of what we did."

Fousseyni Traore led BYU with 16 points and eight rebounds. The freshman forward made his presence felt early; scoring in the paint, getting to the free-throw line and blocking a WSU shot.

Caleb Lohner and Alex Barcello joined Traore pulling BYU to an early 18-12 lead. BYU clung to a 22-19 lead when WSU responded with a critical 10-0 run. The visiting Cougars kept BYU at bay with a nine-point halftime lead.

Traore, Te’Jon Lucas and Gideon George led a brief BYU revival early in the second half. Traore took a charge on the defensive end, resulting in a 3-pointer from George on the ensuing BYU possession. Moments later, Lucas took the ball to the tin and scored following a block from Lohner.

The BYU run cut the WSU lead to three at 42-39, but proved insufficient to retake control of the game. WSU shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, surging ahead to lead by as many as 23 before the game wound to a close.

BYU finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field to WSU’s 44. The two teams battled to a 32-32 draw with points in the paint and BYU edged WSU 40-39 in rebounds.

Frigid 3-point shooting and turnovers proved costly to BYU. The host Cougars shot just 15 percent from beyond the arc while 13 BYU turnovers became 13 WSU points.

WSU’s Michael Flowers led all scorers with 27 points. The WSU bench outscored BYU’s 25-8.

BYU’s second and third leading scorers were Barcello and Lohner with 12 and nine points, respectively. Lohner also chipped-in 11 rebounds.

Barcello and fellow guard Lucas saw their BYU careers come to an end versus WSU. 

Barcello finishes his BYU career having etched his name in the program’s record books over his three-years as a starter.

The senior from Chandler, Arizona tied Jonathan Tavernari on Wednesday for No. 5 all-time at BYU in single season 3-pointers made at 88.

"I am incredibly grateful for Te’Jon Lucas and Alex Barcello, for what they have done for this university and this basketball program," said Pope. "We will miss those guys, they are really special.”

Barcello also ranks among BYU greats for numerous career marks. This includes No. 2 in consecutive starts, No. 4 in free-throw percentage, No. 2 in 3-point percentage, No. 7 in 3-point field goals made and No. 25 in scoring.

While Barcello saw his last action in a BYU uniform on Wednesday, Traore’s young career reached another historic milestone. The Bamako, Mali native recorded his 279th rebound on Wednesday, thus surpassing Yoeli Childs (2016-17) to become the program’s all-time leader in freshman rebounds.

"He’s grown so much," said Pope. "There are so many different slices of his game he needs to learn as a big and he has done an incredible job growing from his first day to his last.”

Despite the disappointing conclusion to the season, at 24-11, BYU recorded 20 or more wins for the 16th time in the past 17 seasons.