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Stockton, Calif. • Prior to Saturday, BYU hadn't won a true road basketball game in more than 10 months that shocking conquest of No. 3 Gonzaga in Spokane last February.
The Cougars were getting tired of hearing about that futile stretch, and they proved it in front of a pro-BYU crowd of 3,175 at Spanos Center the second day of January, ripping through Pacific 81-67 to improve to 1-1 in West Coast Conference play, 10-5 overall.
"Yeah, it feels good. It was a big confidence booster for our team, especially a young team like us," said senior guard Chase Fischer, who scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the last minute of the first half and in the second half. "We were trying to get that first one on the road, and kinda bounce back from adversity against Saint Mary's. It felt really good. Pacific is a good team, and very physical."
Pacific (2-2, 3-10) doesn't have a good record, but the Tigers always seem to play the Cougars tough, and did so again on Saturday until a 12-0 run midway through the second half broke open a tight game.
With BYU's lack of quickness exposed by Pacific's dribble-penetration early in the second half, and with fouls starting to pile up on the Cougars, coach Dave Rose went to what Kyle Collinsworth called "shaky," a zone defense that resembled a 1-3-1. Pacific reeled off six consecutive empty possessions, and when Corbin Kaufusi slammed home an inbounds lob pass from Collinsworth with 9:55 remaining, the Cougars had a 55-43 lead and the disappointing performance in Thursday's 85-74 loss at Saint Mary's in their rearview mirror.
Rose said he was hesitant to go to the zone because BYU was out-rebounded 20-17 in the first half and rebounding out of a zone is more difficult, but guys such as Nate Austin (10 boards), Kyle Davis (seven) and Zac Seljaas (five) grabbed the caroms more frequently than in the first half and the move paid off.
The zone "really helped us, yeah," Rose said. "You have to execute out of that zone, and we did. And I think we got them a little bit on their heels, which kind of took the wind out of their sails."
It also helped that shots that didn't fall in the first half, when the Cougars were 10 of 28 from the field, starting falling left and right in the second.
Fischer ignited the 12-0 run with a 3-pointer, Collinsworth made a driving layup, Seljaas hit a 3-pointer, Austin followed a miss with a putback and Kaufusi's only bucket brought the hundreds of BYU fans to their feet. Pacific, which got 14 points from Jacob Lampkin, and a combined 25 from David Taylor and Ilias Theodorou off the bench, got no closer than nine the rest of the way because after Tonko Vuko's 3-point play, Fischer and Seljaas hit two more 3-pointers apiece and Collinsworth added a dunk and free throw.
Collinsworth was 12 of 17 from the free-throw line and also had eight assists and five rebounds.
"When he has options and places to go with the ball, and guys are making shots, we're good," Rose said. "That's when we are executing well. You need to do that to win any games, but especially when you go out on the road."
Seljaas finished with 14, mostly from 4-for-6 3-point shooting the Cougars were 11-for-23 from beyond the arc and Jamal Aytes chipped in two big baskets off the bench.
The Cougars scored 23 points off Pacific's 15 turnovers.
"We hit shots," Collinsworth said. "I think we did a better job on offense of getting the ball inside-out. I was able to penetrate and kick out to Chase and Zac. They made a lot of big threes in the second half. Our defense was big and we were in that 'shaky' for a little bit, that zone, and we were able to rebound out of it. So that was huge."
So was picking up that elusive first road win, after losses at Long Beach State, Utah, Colorado and Saint Mary's since that monumental win at Gonzaga last year.
"That's the first one," Collinsworth said. "We just gotta take this momentum and take it one game at a time and go from there."
The Cougars will play their next two games at home against Santa Clara and San Francisco before heading back out on the road again in two weeks for four more road contests.
"Getting that first one is always the hardest," Rose said.
R Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer combine for 45 points and the Cougars get their first true road win of the season, pounding Pacific 81-67 at Spanos Center.
• BYU outrebounds Pacific 21-10 in the second half despite going to a zone defense to stop the Tigers' penetration.
• BYU shoots 51.7 percent in the second half after shooting 35.1 percent in the first half to improve to 1-1 in league play.
BYU 81, Pacific 67
Fischer 7-16 3-4 23, Emery 2-8 1-2 6, Collinsworth 5-8 12-17 22, Davis 2-6 0-0 4, Austin 1-2 2-2 4, Seljaas 4-8 2-2 14, Chatman 0-0 2-2 2, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Hartsock 0-0 0-0 0, Aytes 2-6 0-1 4, Kaufusi 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-55 22-30 81.
Wallace 1-4 6-9 8, Kobre 3-7 0-0 8, Vuko 2-4 2-2 6, Lampkin 7-8 0-0 14, Bowles 2-6 2-3 6, Haynes 0-2 0-0 0, Townes 0-1 0-0 0, Ursery 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor 5-7 0-0 13, Theodorou 5-13 0-0 12, Eleraky 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-54 10-14 67.
HalftimeBYU 34-28. 3-Point GoalsBYU 11-23 (Fischer 6-11, Seljaas 4-6, Emery 1-6), Pacific 7-18 (Taylor 3-4, Theodorou 2-5, Kobre 2-6, Wallace 0-1, Haynes 0-1, Vuko 0-1). Fouled OutKobre. ReboundsBYU 38 (Austin 10), Pacific 30 (Wallace 6). AssistsBYU 11 (Collinsworth 8), Pacific 20 (Bowles 5). Total FoulsBYU 16, Pacific 27. A3,175.
W L Pct. W L Pct.
St. Mary's 3 0 1.000 12 1 .923
Gonzaga 3 0 1.000 11 3 .786
San Francisco 2 1 .667 8 5 .615
Portland 2 2 .500 8 9 .471
Pacific 2 2 .500 3 10 .231
BYU 1 1 .500 10 5 .667
Pepperdine 1 2 .333 8 6 .571
Santa Clara 1 3 .250 5 11 .313
San Diego 0 1 .000 5 7 .417
Loyola Mmt. 0 3 .000 7 7 .500
Santa Clara 84, Portland 77
BYU 81 Pacific 67
Pepperdine 68, Loyola Marymount 65 (OT)
San Diego at Saint Mary's, late
Gonzaga at San Francisco, late