‘A step slow,’ BYU gets ousted from NIT

BYU vs. UT-Arlington, Provo, Utah, Mar. 15, 2017 | Photo by BYU Photo

PROVO – The 2016-17 BYU basketball season came to an end as the No. 3-seed Cougars fell to No. 6-seed UT Arlington 105-89 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.

“I think these two teams were in two different places tonight,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “UTA was extremely good at executing, and they were a step ahead of us the whole time. We were not reacting quick enough. We had a really hard time getting stops in the first half, and they made some tough shots, but they also got a lot of exactly what they wanted to get. It was us being a step slower. ”

Eric Mika was one of four Cougars to score double-digit points as he led the team with 29 points and seven rebounds. Nick Emery posted 24 points and seven rebounds of his own. TJ Haws contributed 11 points while Colby Leifson came off the bench to chip in 10 points. UTA (26-8, 14-4 Sun Belt) outshot BYU (22-12, 12-6 WCC) 55 percent from the field to 43 percent while scoring 32 points off turnovers to the Cougars’ seven points.

BYU vs. UT-Arlington, Provo, Utah, Mar. 15, 2017 | Photo by BYU Photo

The Mavericks set the tone for a fast-paced game as the UTA offense built a quick 7-2 lead. Yoeli Childs and Emery combined for seven points to help the Cougars close the gap to 15-13. Mika kept BYU close with a dunk and a pair of three throws to tie the game at 19 apiece with 12:54 on the clock.

UTA went on an 8-0 run before the Cougars fought back to cut the deficit to one as Zach Frampton hit his first career three. BYU fed off the momentum as Emery shot from behind the arc to tie the game 38-38 with 7 1/2 minutes to go.

After trailing by five, the Cougars again tied the game at 47-all, but BYU struggled to keep up as the Mavericks regained a seven-point lead to close the first half, 62-55.

UTA struck first on two possessions to kick off the second half with a 12-point lead. Haws chipped in a bucket from deep, but the Cougars couldn’t hold their rhythm. Emery found the net on a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to eight, 76-68, at the 13:12 mark, but BYU went cold from the floor and the Mavericks extended their advantage to 15.

Trying to rally BYU’s offense, Emery hit another 3 and converted a free throw, followed by a pair of free throws by Childs. It wasn’t enough to halt UTA’s offense as the Mavericks answered with a 12-3 run for a 98-79 lead with three minutes to go. The Mavericks led by as many as 23 before they sealed the 105-89 win.

Player Notes

Eric Mika scored 29 points against UT Arlington and led all scorers. Mika’s string of consecutive games in double-figure scoring now reaches 35. His 23 first-half points are a career-high for him in an opening period of play.

Emery’s 24 points accompany his 20th game this season scoring in double digits.

With a trey in the first half, TJ Haws has now made a 3-pointer in 16 straight games for BYU. He now has three or more 3-point field goal games for the 16th time this season.

Colby Leifson’s 10 second-half points were a career-high total for the freshman. Along with Leifson, Steven Beo reached a career-high in assists with four, and freshman Zach Frampton recorded his first-career field goal against the Mavericks and finished with a career-best three points.

Davin Guinn’s start against the Mavericks goes down as his first career start in a Cougar uniform. He started four games as a freshman at UC Riverside in 2012-2013.

Team Notes

Rose’s starting five was comprised of Nick Emery, TJ Haws, Eric Mika, Yoeli Childs and Davin Guinn, Guinn claiming the spot of injured Elijah Bryant.

BYU’s 55 first-half points are the most points scored by BYU in a half this season. Mika and Emery had both reached double digits by the close of the first half (23 and 15, respectively).

Four Cougars finished the game having scored in double digits: Mika (29), Emery (24), Haws (11) and Leifson (10). Childs ended with a game-high eight rebounds, and Mika and Emery both ended with seven. Emery led the team with five assists.

Stats: uta-byu-box

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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