Portland faced a tough test against the BYU Cougars on Thursday night at the Chiles Center. After an even start, the Cougars pulled away and never looked back, winning 83-48 and dropping the Pilots to 0-10 in conference play.
The first half opened up on an intense note, as the Pilots came out with an up-tempo style on defense, forcing the Cougars to miss shots early.
The Pilots forced BYU to shoot 27 percent from behind the three point line in the first 10 minutes of the game. BYU, however, fought hard inside and owned the offensive boards. The Cougars ended the half with eight offensive rebounds.
Portland also struggled to keep hold of the ball in the first half. Portland committed 12 turnovers, leading to 18 points off turnovers for BYU.
“We really struggled with turnovers,” Pilot head coach Terry Porter said. “Our turnovers lead to a lot of easy baskets. It was a 3 possession game then we turned over on four or five possessions.”
Portland’s zone defense forced BYU to take 11 threes in the first half, many of which did not fall until later in the first. The Pilots found themselves in a hole, however, following a scoreless five minutes. BYU commanded the game going into the locker room at halftime, leading 40-21.
The second half was more of the same as BYU ran away with the game offensively. While continuing to force turnovers, the Cougars shot a hot 52 percent from the field in the second half.
Portland came out lacking a certain edge and energy from its usual producers in the second half, with the Pilots’ starters scoring only 10 points.
Sophomore forward Tahirou Diabate was one of the bright spots for the Pilots in the second half, notching eight points on four shots.
“You always have to try hard,” sophomore forward Tahirou Diabate said. “No matter what, losing or winning, you have to try hard to and keep scoring.”
Portland got to play some of their younger players in second. Players like freshman forward Josh Phillips and redshirt freshman center Hugh Hogland got valuable minutes and continued to fight.
“It's always tough to come out and play in this situation,” Porter said. “They played hard and together, it was good to see them.”
Portland looks to get past another tough loss by Saturday, Feb. 9 as they play host to the visiting Loyola Marymount Lions.
Jamison White is a sports reporter at The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.