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PROVO -- If not for a strong showing by the bench, early fouls could have done in the No. 21/25 BYU Cougars (8-0) against the Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (5-2) Saturday in the EnergySolutions Arena.
In the first half, fouls limited junior forward Noah Hartsock to 11 minutes and sophomore forward Brandon Davies to only five minutes of play. Despite the foul trouble, the Cougars never lost the lead after going down 2-0 to start the game. The bench players came up huge for the Cougars, especially sophomore forward Stephen Rogers, who hit his first three pointers of the season and finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
"Once that first one went down, that confidence was there," Rogers said of his first of three made three pointers. "The coaches have been telling me to keep shooting and it'll come. I'm hoping that's where it'll stay."
At one point in the game, both Hartsock and Davies were off the court because of foul trouble, and reserve forward Logan Magnusson was charged with covering the Rainbow Warriors' big men.
"I got a little upset with some of the early fouls, but that happens," said Hartsock, who ended up with eight points and seven rebounds despite his limited time. "We're grateful that Stephen and Logan were able to go in the post position and really carry us when me and Brandon were in foul trouble."
Magnusson finished with 11 points and three rebounds increasing his points per game average from 1.9 to 3.0. Rogers' average doubled from 1.67 to 3.3 points per game.
The Cougars continue to impress with their ability to have what seems to be a different player every game step up and play a major role.
"Its bad news not to be able to play the guys who started and you want to play," Head Coach Dave Rose said. "But it's really good news for them to know that there's guys that can come in and pick them up. Because the bottom line is, you have to be really aggressive defensively in order to be good."
The Cougars will now prepare to head out to Jimmer Fredette's home town of Glens Falls, New York, where they will play the Vermont Catamounts. In case you were wondering, according to the WordNet web on Princeton.edu, a catamount is a "short-tailed wildcat with usually tuft ears; valued for their fur."
The Cougars will begin the cross-country trip Monday afternoon to get ready for the game on Wednesday evening, which will be held in the 4,806-seat Glens Falls Civic Center.