By Chad Newswander
The men”s basketball team lost its tenth road game of the season Saturday in overtime against Colorado State, 79-75.
This is the first time since 1996 that the Cougars did not win a conference road game. The team ends conference play with a 0-7 mark on the road.
However, BYU had plenty of chances to win in the Moby Arena. During the second half, the Cougars built a 14-point lead. Then something occurred that changed the destiny of the game.
“The last ten minutes, the momentum changed,” head coach Steve Cleveland said.
BYU should have known from past experience that funny things happen when a team is playing on its home court. Utah was up 21 points in the Marriott Center in the second half, but the Cougars still defeated Utah. They did the same thing to New Mexico who at one point led by 12.
“You can”t ever feel comfortable with a lead. Especially when you are playing a team at their place,” sophomore center Dan Howard said.
The Cougars went on a seven-minute scoring drought that allowed the Rams to cut the lead to five points with 4:30 remaining in the game.
The Cougars needed to do three things to pull out their first conference road game, Cleveland said.
“We had a chance to win the game in the last three or four minutes.” Cleveland said. “We don”t rebound and get the necessary rebounds when we had them. We miss free throws and we don”t get a stop with 12 seconds to go.”
Sophomore guard Mark Bigelow missed two free throws in a span of a minute that would have increased BYU”s lead to four points and then three. Instead, the Rams were given the chance to tie the ballgame and go into overtime.
Colorado State”s leading scorer, junior guard Brain Greene, ensured that would happen as he tied the game 59-59.
Bigelow had the opportunity to seal the game with a buzzer-beating jumper. Instead, his shot was partially blocked as it hit nothing but air.
In overtime, the Rams pulled ahead and built a three-point lead. They would not concede it as they drained 9-10 shots from the charity stripe.
Junior guard Travis Hansen would not admit defeat either. He hit a three-pointer to dwindle the lead to two points. But the Ram”s shooting from the free-throw line was too much for the Cougars to overcome.
“It is rough,” Howard said. “When you have a game won, and then blow it in the final minutes.”
The Cougars finish the conference with a 7-7 record. They will play San Diego State on Thursday in Las Vegas to start the MWC tournament. They will most likely have to win the tournament to make it into the NCAA Tournament.