Alston helps Boise State hold off BYU in overtime

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SALT LAKE CITY — In the end, there was just too much Alston.

Derrick Alston Jr. scored a game-high 26 points to go along with 11 rebounds for Boise State, including one of the Broncos’ three 3-pointers, in a 72-68 win Wednesday night over BYU at ExtraMile Arena in Boise.

Jake Toolson had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists for BYU, and TJ Haws added 10 points and four rebounds for the Cougars (3-2).

BYU made just three shots in overtime. Boise State, which improved to 2-2 with its first win over a Division I opponent of the season, was 4 of 6 from the field after regulation.

That proved to be the difference.

“I’m super disappointed,” BYU coach Mark Pope told BYU Radio, even while taking blame on his own shoulders. “It was an unbelievably poor job on my part. We knew we were going to grow in starts and fits, and we put some odd lineups out there at times.

“We spent a lot of this game just in a desperate search for answers. I was incredibly proud of our guys’ fight, which is the No. 1 concept we have to have. We just didn’t come up with the right answers at the right time.”

Connor Harding supplied 10 points and four rebounds for the Cougars, who shot just 39 percent from the field but made 55.6 percent of their field goals in the second half. That included 5 of 10 from 3-point range, including a pair of triples by Harding to pull them back from a seven-point halftime deficit.

RJ Williams had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Broncos, but fouled out with 1:49 left in regulation of what was at the time a one-point game. Justinian Jessup supplied nine points, seven rebounds and three assists for Boise State.

BYU made three more field goals than the Broncos (28-25), including four more 3-pointers (7-3) and outrebounded Boise State 44-42 — the first time they’ve been stronger on the glass in five games. The Cougars were led by a career-high seven rebounds from Alex Barcello and seven more from Kolby Lee, who also had seven points and two assists.

But Boise shot 27 free throws to BYU’s seven, making 19 of them (BYU made five). That was the difference.

“That’s not supposed to be us,” Pope said. “That’s not supposed to be who we are. We’re supposed to be an aggressive, attacking, assertive team. When we come out of here with seven free throws, we’re not doing our job.”

Boise State guard Justinian Jessup dunks in overtime against BYU during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 72-68. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)
Boise State guard Justinian Jessup dunks in overtime against BYU during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 72-68. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

It also wasn’t enough to overcome a 37.8 shooting percent, including just 7 of 24 from 3-point range. The Cougars opened by making just two of their first 13 shots from the field, and trailed by as much as 23-14 in the first half en route to trailing 27-20 at the break.

Harding hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 13:34 left to cap a 12-2 run that put the Cougars back on top, 39-38. BYU opened the second half making 7 of 10 from the field, including 4 of 6 from deep to get back into the game and eventually force overtime.

“Connor’s a great player, and those are shots that we want him to shoot,” said Barcello, who had a career-high seven rebounds to go along with four points, three assists and a steal. “We want him to make those. He had some big-time plays, and he was a key player in this game.”

But that was as close as the Cougars would get. BYU led just once in 14 scoring possessions in overtime, and Boise State used an 8-0 run to go up 70-64 and pull away for good.

“We definitely have two losses that we feel like we should have won,” Barcello told BYU Radio. “But those are things that we can learn from. We’re going to take both of those losses, get back tomorrow, and try to move forward.

“We’re just going to continue moving in the right direction, and play hard.”

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