SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For the fourth time this year, and second game in a row, backup center Nate Austin fouled out.
But that moment at 2:23 remaining Saturday was what made it really sound like a pro-BYU crowd.
The fans in blue, either in the upper deck or behind the baskets at Santa Clara's Leavey Center, cheered loudly for Austin — enough that the SCU student section's "left-right-left" chant as Austin walked off the floor (like what BYU's student body does at the Marriott Center) was drowned out.
The Broncos had been averaging 2,336 fans (13 games) and the announced crowd was 4,700 for the 4 p.m. PST tipoff, an official capacity crowd.
The school announced that fewer than 100 tickets remained as of Friday afternoon, though there were visibly more than 100 bleacher seats available well into the first half.
Austin had a quality 17 minutes in BYU's 82-67 win, worth watching for BYU fans that plunked down $20 for seats that normally go for about half that.
Austin most notably hit a 15-foot baseline jumper. SCU coach Kerry Keating was yelling at his player to go defend the shot, but the 6-foot-10 Austin had no problem creating an opportunity with his size and faith from that spot on the floor.
Shooting less than 50 percent from the foul line (18-for-37, 48.6 percent) he also drained a couple of free throws when Noah Hartsock was injured midway through the second half. Keating had his choice of Cougars on the floor, and thought he had an easy mark.
"Nate's given us great minutes," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Defensively, rebounding the ball — offensively he's a really good 'opportunity' scorer."
And those two foul shots maybe one of the lasting legacies of the trip to the Bay Area, besides the two wins.
Other BYU players who once struggled with foul shots (like Brandon Davies) usually found a way to make them in a road game before turning into significantly more confident shooters.
"He buried them both (free throws)," Rose said. "So that was big."
∫Familiar faces: Santa Clara guard Evan Roquemore and BYU's Anson Winder shared a hug right before tipoff. They're both from the Las Vegas area. Also, former BYU guard Mark Bigelow — the last Cougar freshman to score 30 points in a game before Matt Carlino on Thursday at San Francisco — watched the game and stayed for the post-game powwow with Rose and current players.
Rose and his wife, Cheryl, greeted a few hundred fans about a half hour after the game.
∫Been there before: Davies visited Gonzaga during his Provo High days and even saw a game at the McCarthey Center (more commonly known as "The Kennel").
"It'll be a great environment," he said of Thursday's visit by BYU.
∫ Jason Franchuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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