Cougars fall to Duquesne at NCAA Tournament

BYU’s rally came up short in its Round of 64 loss to Duquesne


OMAHA, Neb. – Jaxson Robinson scored a game-high 25 points, but it wasn't enough as No. 21 BYU fell to Duquesne, 71-67, in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Neb. The Cougars finish their inaugural season in the Big 12 at 23-11 overall including 10-8 in league play.

“Tons of congratulations to Duquesne. They are on a great run, and they earned the win," head coach Mark Pope said. “Just a devastating day for us for sure. It's devastating because we lost. It's devastating because we won't move on. And mostly it's devastating because we don't get to get in the gym together again. It will dissipate to some degree and will be replaced with an insane amount of gratitude for these guys sitting here, what they've dedicated to each other and to BYU, and the things that they were able to accomplish this year.”

Robinson went 8-of-15 from the floor including five 3-pointers which are tied for the third-most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. Thirteen of those points came in the first half where BYU finished with 30 points.

Spencer Johnson recorded his fourth double-double of the season as the senior finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds in his final game at BYU. His career-high 16 rebounds are the third-most by a Cougar in a NCAA Tournament game and most since Kresimir Cosic had 23 boards against UCLA in 1971.

Dallin Hall led the team with six assists, bringing his season total to 172, which are the sixth-most in program history. The sophomore also had 11 points marking it the 16th time he has scored in double figures in 2023-24.

The Cougars, who only led for 29 seconds in the game, shot 38.6 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from three and 88.2 percent from the free throw line in their first matchup against the Dukes since December 1953. 11 of BYU’s 35 rebounds came on the offensive glass to go along with 16 assists, six steals and two blocks.

First Half
The Cougars missed their first seven shots, trailing 9-0 before Jaxson Robinson made a pair of free throws at the 14:52 mark. Robinson connected on BYU’s first basket of the game with a corner three, extending his 3-point streak to 21 games.

Richie Saunders turned an offensive rebound into points a few minutes later with a floater in the lane. Robinson connected on his second 3-pointer of the game with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half to cut the deficit to seven, 17-10, and be the start of a 10-2 run for the Cougars.

Spencer Johnson knocked down his first 3-pointer of the first half followed by a layup from the Dukes. Trevin Knell connected on a floater followed by a pair of free throws from Robinson. The senior connected on his third 3-pointer of the first half to give BYU its first lead of the first half, 20-19. Duquesne responded with a 14-1 run over the next 3:45 to give the Dukes a 33-21 lead before Noah Waterman hit his first three of the game to spark a 9-0 run for the Cougars.

Johnson connected on both of his free throws, followed by a scoop-and-score from Dallin Hall. Johnson finished the run off with a contested shot to cut the deficit to three, 33-30. Duquesne’s Jakub Necas scored the final five points of the half giving the Dukes a 38-30 lead at halftime.

Second Half
The Dukes scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half forcing a BYU timeout as the Cougars trailed by a game-high 14, 46-32, with 16:44 left. Fousseyni Traore's first make from the floor was the start of a 6-0 run from the Cougars. Robinson drove the lane and converted, followed by free throws from Saunders.

It was 52-44 with less than nine minutes remaining when the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to make it a single possession game. Robinson scored the opening five points of the run before Traore knocked down both free throws after being fouled under the basket by David Dixon.

Following an old-fashioned 3-point play by the Dukes, Robinson hit his fifth and final 3-pointer of the game to keep the Cougars within one, 55-54. The teams continued to match baskets until the final minute when the Dukes’ Jimmy Clark III made a driving layup to make it 65-60. The Dukes made their free throws down the stretch as a deep three from Hall was to no avail and the Cougars fell for the second straight NCAA Tournament as a No. 6 seed.