BYU Basketball regained sole possession of third place in the WCC standings after a 85-77 win over the LMU Lions on Saturday night.
Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo
PROVO – Returning to the Marriott Center on Saturday night, the BYU Cougars looked to return to the win column in a rematch against WCC foe LMU. The Cougars were able to win a hard fought game 85-77 behind 27 points and nine rebounds from Eric Mika improving to 16-7 on the season and 7-3 in league play.
The game was filled with loose ball handling from the Cougars and frequent whistles from the referees as the visiting Lions brought the fight to BYU. The Cougars finished the game with 23 turnovers which LMU converted into 19 points and the two teams combined for 50 fouls – with 31 against LMU.
“It was a pretty physical game. I thought they were really aggressive on both ends of the floor. There were times when we were hesitant, and we turned the ball over too many times,” said BYU Head Coach Dave Rose. “They were so aggressive. For the most part we attacked pretty well. Despite the turnovers and free-throw shooting, I thought it was a pretty good win for our guys.”
The whistles changed the pace of the game, something that affects a fast-paced team like BYU and TJ Haws noticed it in the Cougars’ play.
“It’s hard to get in rhythm when the game is stopping and going like that. We had times of stop and go as far as playing our best,” said Haws. “Overall I thought we did a good job of attacking their defense and getting to the line.”
BYU led for the majority of the game – 37:03 – but wasn’t able to build a comfortable lead. Eric Mika started the scoring for the Cougars by winning the opening possession and he later hit a jumper with an assist from TJ Haws. Mika added to his stat line by recording an assist on consecutive possessions. BYU used the momentum to build a 5-0 lead, which LMU quickly tied up.
The Cougars and Lions met each other score-for-score to make it a 13-13 game with 15:27 remaining. BYU built some momentum behind a 13-5 run to create a 26-18 lead behind two three pointers from Nick Emery.
BYU extended the lead to ten points behind a 4-2 run which was quickly cut short by a 14-4 run by LMU behind six points from Buay Tuach who created frustration for the Cougars during the game.
Tuach finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds, and three steals and was key in LMU competing with the Cougars.
The half finished on a 9-6 run from the Cougars as they took a 43-40 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Tuach opened the second half scoring by hitting a jumper with 19:35 left in the game to cut BYU’s lead to one, but that was as close as they got for the remainder of the game as Haws hit a three on the next possession which was then answered by a dunk from Tuach to make the score 46-44.
As the Cougars scored, the Lions would answer. BYU built a comfortable lead starting with a Beo layup with 16:20 remaining in the game. The layup led to a 10-1 run for BYU to pull ahead 62-51 with 11:39 left in the game.
The Cougars led by as many as 16 in the game after an 8-3 run which was cut to six points after a 13-3 run from the Lions – making the score 73-67 with 5:52 left – capped by two three point field goals from Brandon Brown.
That was as close as LMU got as BYU held the lead for an eight point win. BYU regained sole possession of third place in the WCC.
“I think our guys played hard,” said Dave Rose. “There haven’t been too many games where effort has been the issue. Execution has been the thing with this team. I’m pleased with their competitiveness and heart and how hard they play.”
In addition to Mika’s dominant play, Haws added 19 points, Emery had 11 of his own, and Yoeli Childs had a near double-double with 10 points and eight boards. Emery made a three-pointer for the 31st consecutive game extending BYU’s school record.
The Cougars will return to the Marriott Center Thursday to face #3 Gonzaga who will enter the game with a 22-0 record. That game will be broadcast on ESPN 2 and will tip-off at 9 pm MT. It will also be heard on the Cougar IMG Sports Network (102.7 FM, 1160 AM, 143 SiriusXM) with Greg Wrubell on the call.
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