The BYU men’s basketball team lost 92-89 in a heartbreaker to Valparaiso in the championship game of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event at the MGM Grand on Wednesday night.
The Cougars started off hot with Nick Emery and TJ Haws both hitting threes in the opening minutes of the game.
The big men of BYU got into early foul trouble, notably Eric Mika. Mika was limited to just 19 minutes of play during the game due to foul issues. Kyle Davis and Yoeli Childs also got into early foul trouble, which forced head coach Dave Rose to turn to his bench.
With BYU’s frontcourt foul struggles, Valpo was able to capitalize and cut BYU’s lead to nil by the end of the half. A couple of free throws in the last seconds of the first half allowed BYU to go into the locker room with 46-44 lead.
It was more of the same in the second half with Mika quickly picking up his fourth foul. Mika was visibly frustrated at the call. His frustration was felt throughout the team, with freshman guard TJ Haws picking up a technical foul for throwing an elbow in frustration.
The game was neck and neck in the closing minutes of the game, with the Cougars having a chance to win it. Down three with seconds left on the clock, Emery sent up an errant three-pointer.
After missed free throws the Cougars were left with less than three seconds left on the clock. BYU passed it to midcourt and immediately called a timeout. With less than two seconds left on the clock, down by three points, the Cougars passed it in to open center Eric Mika, who sent up a three-pointer that missed the rim completely.
Valparaiso dealt BYU its first loss of the season. The Cougars competed hard against a Valparaiso team that was picked to win their conference and will likely make the NCAA tournament.
The Cougars will have a quick holiday break before returning to the Marriott Center to face crosstown opponent Utah Valley University on Saturday.