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BYU rallies from 23-point deficit to beat Dayton in OT

By Darnell Dickson - | Nov 25, 2022

Matthew Norton/BYU Photo

22-23mBKB vs Nicholls State 10 BYU beats Nichols State 87-73 November 19, 2022 Photo by Matthew Norton/BYU photo.byu.edu

Trailing Dayton 32-9 with 6:01 to play in the first half of the seventh-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday, the BYU men’s basketball team looked cooked. The Cougars couldn’t shoot (4 for 20 from the field) and couldn’t stop the Flyers from getting easy baskets.

If there was a mercy rule in college basketball, the game would have been called right there.

BYU, which still trailed 40-24 at halftime, somehow came up with a startling and gutsy comeback. The Cougars started to make 3-pointers and got defensive stops in the second half, taking a 63-62 lead on a Gideon George 3-pointer with 2:15 to play.

The game was tied at 64 after regulation time and in the extra session BYU took control with a 10-2 run, keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Jaxson Robinson. The Cougars led 74-68 with 1:38 to play and finished off the comeback with 5 of 6 from the foul line for a 79-75 victory.

“Tonight was a great night,” BYU freshman Dallin Hall said. “They jumped on us early, but we showed a lot of fight and came back. A lot of guys stepped up and hit big shots.”

Gideon George led the Cougars with 21 points, 19 in the second half and overtime while making 3 of 5 from the 3-point line. Jaxson Robinson finished with 14 points and was 4 of 6 from the arc.

BYU couldn’t have made the comeback without huge contributions off the bench from Hall (12 points, five assists) and fellow freshman Richie Saunders (eight points). Hall’s playmaking and Saunders’ tireless effort were enormous factors in the BYU second-half surge.

BYU needed its entire active roster to create the energy in the comeback.

“I felt like it wasn’t just one person, it was the whole team,” Robinson said. “Everybody had to contribute in a different way, whether that be on the bench or on the court. The first half was really rough for us and we all knew it, but all you can do is fight and crawl back. That’s exactly what we did and we got the win.”

DaRon Holmes led Dayton (3-4) with 21 points and nine rebounds and Mike Sharavjamts added 15. The Flyers, which played the overtime without three starters due to fouls and injuries, didn’t score a field goal for nearly six minutes during a key stretch late in the second half while the Cougars rallied.

BYU produced a dreadful start, falling behind 10-0 in the first six minutes of the game. The first basket for the Cougars came on a layup from Hall at the 13:55 mark. Rudi Williams made a 3-pointer to cut the Dayton lead to 15-9 with 10:45 to play in the half but the Flyers exploded on a 17-0 run which included a trio of 3-point makes and dunks by Holmes and Mustapha Amzil.

The Cougars managed to trim the 23-point deficit to 13, 37-24, on a late 10-3 run that included 3-pointers from Robinson and Saunders. But BYU surrendered a triple to Elvis Day and went into halftime trailing by 16, 40-24.

The Cougars got Dayton lead under double digits (44-35) with 16:13 to play after a steal and dunk from Robinson. With 7:57 to go, Hall scored on a drive to cut the deficit to four, 56-62. Hall hit a 3-pointer and made another drive to get BYU to 60-57 with 4:52 remaining, setting up the big finish for the Cougars.

“Tonight these guys managed to put two things together with incredible competitive spirit and a little healthy dose of execution,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “So our expectation together as a team is we are going to get better and better and better. We’re not a great team right now. But we all believe that we have a chance to become a really, really good team. We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”

BYU was playing without second-leading scorer Spencer Johnson (11.0 points per game), who suffered a knee injury in Thursday’s loss to Butler.

The Cougars (4-3) return to Utah after posting a 1-2 record in the Battle 4 Atlantis and have a pair of games scheduled at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City: Tuesday vs. NAIA school Westminster and Saturday against South Dakota.

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