PORTLAND – Elijah Bryant finished with a career-high 39 points and went 10 of 17 from the field and 12 of 12 from the stripe as BYU men's basketball defeated Portland 97-78 on Thursday at the Chiles Center.
"We talked about it in pregame and I felt like these guys would come out and compete," head coach Dave Rose said. "I didn’t know if we would come out and compete individually or compete together. That’s what I am the happiest with. These guys were as good as we’ve been together tonight in a really long time.”
Bryant’s 39 points combined with a career-high 11 rebounds from Braiden Shaw, who recorded his first career start for BYU (20-10, 11-6 West Coast Conference), contributed to the 19-point win over Portland (10-20, 2-15 WCC). Three additional Cougars finished in double figures, including Eric Mika with 19 points and eight rebounds, Nick Emery who finished with 16 points and three 3-pointers and Steven Beo who recorded 12 points, tying his career-high. BYU finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field.
The Cougars recorded a season-high 13 3-pointers, with seven coming from Bryant. Bryant’s performance of 39 points are the most by any player in the WCC this season.
After Portland opening the game on top 2-0, BYU hit four straight 3-pointers from Emery and Bryant, and the Cougars took a 12-3 lead that was then extended to 14-3 after two Mika free throws. The Pilots fought back, however, scoring four straight points before Bryant and Mika combined for seven more points and a 20-7 lead with 14:14 remaining.
Bryant and Emery continued to fire away from three, each recording another trey, with Mika scoring a layup to put the Cougars up 28-13 over the Pilots. Following a timeout, Emery drained a third 3-pointer which was followed by two Bryant free throws before BYU went scoreless for the next two-and-a-half minutes. Emery then took the lid off the basket with a jumper and the Cougars went up 35-19 with 8:32 remaining in the half.
Shaw and Beo began contributing to the Cougars’ total, each recording a field goal to put BYU up 39-23 with 6:33 to go. Mika came up with BYU’s next seven points, but turnovers began to plague the Cougars as Portland cut the deficit to 12 with free throws, a jumper and a 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining. Bryant entered the game again and scored four quick points and Emery finished off the half with a free throw with one second left and BYU went into the locker room up 51-34.
The Cougars opened up the half with a Mika jumper, followed by Haws’ first points of the game, a 3-pointer, to put BYU up by 20, 56-36. Mika and Shaw combined for four more points before Bryant scored yet another 3-pointer. Beo recorded five more points including a trey to extend the Cougar lead to 25, 70-45 with 13:47 left in the game.
BYU began to slow down a bit in the final minutes, but two more 3-pointers from Bryant were enough to maintain a comfortable lead over Portland. Mika, Emery, Beo and Frampton all contributed additional points in the final four minutes while a rare eight-point possession for the Pilots shortened the Cougar lead to 17, at 95-78. It would prove inconsequential, however, as BYU cruised to victory, defeating the Pilots, 97-78.
The Cougars will next travel to Spokane to conclude the regular season against No. 1 Gonzaga at McCarthey Athletic Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. PST and will be televised on ESPN or ESPN 2 and broadcast on the radio on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.