No. 17 BYU connects on season-high 16 3-pointers in win over Bellarmine

No. 17 BYU men’s basketball defeated Bellarmine 101-59 on Friday evening at the Marriott Center, eclipsing the century mark behind a season-high 16 3-pointers.

Spencer Johnson attempts a corner 3-pointer vs. BellarmineSpencer Johnson attempts a corner 3-pointer vs. Bellarmine

PROVO, Utah - No. 17 BYU men’s basketball defeated Bellarmine 101-59 on Friday evening at the Marriott Center, eclipsing the century mark behind a season-high 16 3-pointers.

“We have a lot of guys that want to play together," said BYU head coach Mark Pope. "It sure feels like they love playing with each other. We’re playing a lot of guys, which is fun. There’s no hesitation to make plays for each other because they know it’s coming right back to them."

Six Cougars scored in double figures, led by Spencer Johnson, Richie Saunders and Trevin Knell’s 14 points and Noah Waterman’s 13. Each recorded three 3-pointers apiece. Ally Khalifa added nine points on a season-high three makes from downtown. Reserves Atiki Ally Atiki and Dawson Baker all scored in double figures to lead the BYU bench to a 46-13 advantage.

Spencer Johnson neared triple double territory with eight rebounds and seven assists in addition to his 14 points. The senior also notched a team-high three steals. Dawson Baker’s 10 points marked a season-high in his second game as a Cougar. 

As a team, BYU shot 40-of-69 from the floor and 16-of-39 from deep.

The Cougars outpaced Bellarmine in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, registering 26 fast break points to the Knights’ three. Despite only winning the turnover margin by four, 13-9, BYU outscored Bellarmine 28-3 in points off turnovers.

First Half
Bellarmine jumped out to an early 6-2 lead before Johnson answered with a 3-pointer. The Knights countered with four straight points take a 10-5 advantage.

BYU then proceeded to go on a 7-0 run with a Khalifa triple and two buckets down low by Atiki. Atiki continued to assert dominance in the post with a two-handed dunk off a dime from Johnson near the paint as BYU went up 16-12 with 12:21 remaining in the opening half.

Later, Saunders’ pestering defense led an errant pass to sail out of bounds. Baker capitalized on the next possession with a 3-pointer to go up 21-12. The Knights converted on a triple before Baker snatched a rebound and slung a cross-court pass to Saunders who cashed in on a 10-foot, right-handed floater.

With 9:42 to go in the first half, BYU led 23-15.

Both teams then traded off 3-point makes on five of the next seven possessions, with the Cougars connecting on three. BYU’s first trey came with a behind-the-back pass from Baker to Khalifa, followed by a steal from Trey Stewart and transition 3-pointer from Waterman. Baker then pulled up for another downtown shot off the dribble. The Knights’ two triples kept within striking distance as BYU led 32-21 with 7:40 remaining.

BYU entered the locker room with its largest lead, up 42-28. A steal by Baker in the final minute led to his smooth double behind-the-back handles, evading defenders twice before an outlet dish to Johnson who lobbed the rock to a trailing Atiki for a slam. Bellarmine cut the lead as close as 33-26, but Waterman notched his second 3-pointer of the night, followed by a Saunders pump-fake and score in the post off a fast-break.

Both teams posted an identical 33.3 percent clip from beyond the arc, with BYU going 7-of-21 and Bellarmine 4-of-12. The pace and points off turnovers made the difference for the Cougars, winning the points off turnovers battle 14-0. BYU also outpaced Bellarmine’s 3 fast break points with 14. The second unit outscored the Knights 22-9.

Second Half
With both teams trading scores to open the half, BYU maintained a 52-37 advantage with 17:18 remaining. Waterman and Khalifa helped the Cougars with 3-pointers from each. Knell later made consecutive triples to help the Cougars start 4-for-5 from deep on the half.

With the score at 58-42, Saunders hit a catch-and-shoot three to ignite a 12-2 run that lasted 2:58, further cementing the Cougar lead at 70-44. The run included stifling defense and good ball movement as Atiki scored a floater and the defense forced a 3-point air-ball attempt late in the shot clock. Knell also knocked down a corner triple with a foul and converted on the free throw, followed by a layup and foul by Saunders.

The following 2:57 saw BYU go scoreless as Bellarmine went on a 5-0 run. Saunders then scored to make it 72-49, followed by strong defense from Atiki as he notched his second stuff of the half.

The Cougars then went on another double digit scoring run - this time 10-0 to go up 84-51 with 6:01 remaining - led by five points from Dallin Hall. Baker also converted on a layup while Johnson connected on another 3-pointer.

The Cougars continued strong to the end, closing the game on a 17-8 run to win by more than 40 points for the fifth time this season.

BYU will remain at home next week as it faces former Mountain West Conference foe Wyoming in an afternoon contest on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 4:00 p.m. MST. Watch the game on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ or listen to live play-by-play on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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