BYU basketball falls short in nail-biter, season ends

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The BYU men’s basketball season came to an end after falling to the Baylor Bears 70–76 in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday. Tuesday night was the latest BYU has played into a calendar year since April 2, 1903.

BYU (24–12) and Baylor (22–14) traded baskets for the first 35 minutes until Baylor’s guard Pierre Jackson made eight straight points to extend the Bears’ lead 64–54 with 3:24 left. The game had a total of seven ties and 10 lead changes, and neither team led by more than four points until the eight-minute mark in the second half when Baylor led by five.

Brandon Davies blocks a shot by Baylor's Brady Heslip during the first half of an NIT semifinal basketball game. (AP Photo)
Brandon Davies blocks a shot by Baylor’s Brady Heslip during the first half of an NIT semifinal basketball game. (AP Photo)

“Congratulations to Coach Drew and the Baylor team,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I thought they were just terrific down the stretch. They made every big play that they needed to make, and I thought it was a great game. I thought both teams played hard. I thought it was a well‑played game.”

Matt Carlino finished with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists on an off-shooting night. He hit all five BYU threes, three in a row, which cut BYU’s deficit 68–71 with 37 seconds to go in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

“I was just trying to keep us in it by making threes. There was still a lot of time left, so I wanted to get us as close as we could,” Carlino said. “I wish some of those had gone down earlier to make it more interesting. We did a lot tonight; I’m really proud of our team, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.”

BYU entered Madison Square Garden shooting lights out beyond the arc but was only 5–20 against Baylor. After averaging 22 assists per game in the NIT, the Cougars’ offense went stagnant with only nine assists against the Bears.

Tyler Haws scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed four rebounds while Brandon Davies contributed 13 points and five rebounds, despite being in foul trouble. Nate Austin had arguably his best game of the year with nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds, seven offensive rebounds, diving for loose balls and crashing the boards.

“I think that Nate’s effort the last probably month and a half of the season has been terrific,” Rose said. “The last three or four games he’s been so valuable to our team, and it’s been a great experience for a young guy.”

The Cougars out-rebounded the Bears 40–33, but gave up too many second-chance opportunities in the second half and allowed Baylor to hit big shot after big shot.

“We out‑rebounded them, and I think that speaks volumes to the effort that we got from our players,” Rose said. “We hit a little scoring drought there in the second half where they got a little lead and we weren’t able to come back from that … I think that the big plays that were made by Baylor down the stretch were probably the difference in the game. Again, I’m just really proud of our guys how we fought back from being 10 down and got it to a one‑possession game.”

With the season coming to an end, the Cougars finish an up-and-down season strong in the NIT and hope to carry their success into next season.

“We created a lot of momentum, and I just hope it carries into next year,” Carlino said.

BYU’s season at a glance:

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