BYU men’s basketball: Cougars can’t close out San Diego, lose 77-74

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San Diego center Jito Kok (33) forces BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth, left, into a difficult shot during the closing seconds of San Diego's 77-74 victory in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego center Jito Kok (33) forces BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth, left, into a difficult shot during the closing seconds of San Diego’s 77-74 victory in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

BYU basketball suffered another heartbreaker in a 77-74 loss to the San Diego Toreros on Saturday.

“We’ve definitely had some really tough losses,” BYU forward Luke Worthington said. “This one, a lot like most of the others, was just a really close game. We just couldn’t make the plays to pull it out, unfortunately.”

The Cougars again struggled to control the boards early, allowing USD to collect seven offensive rebounds in the first half, which helped the Toreros to a seven-point lead midway through the period.

“(Rebounding) is a real issue for us,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “I wish it was as easy as, ‘Let’s just put some bigger guys out there,’ but it seems like it’s a little bit more complicated than that.”

A pair of threes from Skyler Halford tied the game with 7:25 to go in the first half, and BYU took a 38-33 lead into halftime. Halford led the team with eight points and three assists, while Johnny Dee had eight points to pace the Toreros.

BYU stretched its second-half lead to nine, thanks in part to an athletic defensive play by Corbin Kaufusi, who chased down a USD fast break and blocked Brandon Perry’s layup off the backboard.

But the Toreros wouldn’t back down, as the Cougars continued to allow Dee open threes and easy dunks to Thomas Jacobs.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to defend better,” Rose said. “We were upside-down three or four different times just on communication issues, where we left a guy wide open at the rim. There’s a lot of things that we need to fix.”

A Chase Fischer flagrant foul with 6:24 to go appeared to shift the momentum back to the Toreros, helping them take a late seven-point lead.

BYU cut San Diego’s lead to one in the final minute, but a Kyle Collinsworth shot at the rim with three seconds left just wouldn’t fall.

“We all thought he had it; that’s a play that Kyle makes all the time,” Worthington said. “That one just didn’t bounce his way.”

Tyler Haws led all scorers with 20, while Jacobs and Dee finished with 19 and 18 points respectively.

The loss keeps the Cougars in fourth place in the West Coast Conference with a 5-4 record. They will return home to face San Francisco on Jan. 29.

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