Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

BYU tops WVU in first trip to the Coliseum, 86-73

There is a scene from the 1980s movie Three Amigos where Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short dress up everyone in a Mexican village in the same costume to confuse the bad guys and eventually take them down.

WVU knew exactly how that felt Saturday, as No. 22 BYU went inside and outside to take down the Mountaineers inside the Coliseum 86-73.


Everywhere WVU defenders looked there was an open BYU shooter.

“It was a combination of both,” WVU guard RaeQuan Battle replied when asked if it was a lack of defense for WVU or BYU simply playing good offense. “A team like that, you really have to stick to every shooter. They got seven or eight of them that all do the same thing. It’s kind of hard to stop, especially once they get you running around the entire time.”

And that’s how the Cougars (16-5, 4-4 Big 12) thrived in their first-ever trip to the Coliseum, they kept WVU defenders chasing, on their heels and never let them rest for a second.

“The Amigos are over there,” the bad guys said in the movie. “Now they are over there. No, now they are over there.”

Well, BYU put Jaxson Robinson on one side of the court, Spencer Johnson at the other end, while Fousseyni Traore was in the paint and Dallin Hall was seemingly everywhere else.

Those four players combined for 59 points, eight 3-pointers and 16 assists.

For added measure, BYU also had Richie Saunders come off the bench and all he did was nail a dagger of a 3-pointer on an inbounds play with less than two seconds left on the shot clock. He banked it in and finished with 17 points.

WVU had begun to erase a 17-point deficit and BYU’s lead was just 67-61 when Saunders nailed that shot.

“We were down 17 and we were fighting and clawing,” WVU head coach Josh Eilert said. “A couple of those miraculous threes were daggers for our team’s confidence when you’re trying to make a run and especially as late as they did make those shots.”

The shots came from the left, the right and down low with Traore, who was named a starter at the last minute but finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.

BYU scored 39 points on 13 3-pointers and added 38 more points in the paint.

“It’s something we’ve worked on all season, but we’ve taken it to the Nth degree right now,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “Philosophically, it’s really important that we and try to stretch teams 27 by 50 feet. Most teams make you guard 21 by 50 or 18 by 50. With our skill set, we need to work hard to continue to make teams guard in space.”

After trailing 56-39 with 13:44 remaining, WVU (8-14, 3-6) got as close as 65-60 at the 5:26 mark. BYU then hit four 3-pointers and Tarore added a hook shot in the paint over the final five minutes for the Cougars to finish strong.

“It’s difficult, because you just can’t go double off of 3-point shooters,” Battle said. “We just have to take more pride in one-on-one opportunities and make them score over us.”

WVU tried to keep pace behind Kerr Kriisa’s season-high 23 points. He also added four assists and two steals.

Jesse Edwards finished with 16 points and seven rebounds and Battle added 14 points, but the Mountaineers didn’t have enough firepower on this night.

“It’s hard to double-team a team like that,” Eilert said. “As well as they pass, they can pass that thing right out of there and it’s a 3-point shot. Credit to BYU, they’re excellent at reading the defense. They’re excellent at making the extra pass.”