The BYU men’s basketball team ended its season with a 105-89 loss to UT Arlington in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
“We just weren’t good enough,” said head coach Dave Rose.
Eric Mika led BYU with 29 points and seven rebounds while Nick Emery had 24 points.
“We learn from our mistakes,” Emery said. “It’s something that we’ve got to learn from and remember this feeling going into next year. It’s a process. It’s not something that just happens overnight. We’re willing to learn from that process.”
The Mavericks jumped out to an early 8-2 lead and extended their lead to seven before BYU responded with a 7-2 run to cut that lead to two.
A tough pass from Steven Beo found Mika under the basket for an easy slam dunk and a pair of free throws followed to tie the game at 19-19.
But UTA had an answer every time BYU tried to take the lead. Four straight buckets pushed the Mavericks’ lead to eight before a pair of Emery free throws cut it to six.
UTA would outscore BYU 30-29 to finish a high octane first half and take a 62-55 lead into the locker room.
BYU shot 59 percent from the field in the half while UTA shot 63 percent from the field with 16 points off of turnovers.
“We had a really hard time making stops in the first half,” Rose said.
The Mavericks continued their hot shooting in the second half while BYU started the half 1-for-8 from the field.
The Cougars would cut the lead to eight with 12:50 to play in the game, but UTA answered yet again.
At the 8:10 mark, Emery hit a free throw to complete a four-point play and cut UTA’s lead to single digits. This time, an easy back door layup and a BYU turnover killed the momentum.
A 13-4 run sealed the win for the Mavericks as they increased their lead to 19 points.
BYU finished the game with 20 turnovers. The Mavericks scored 32 points off of those turnovers.
“We’ve got to remember this and get better,” Mika said.
Upsets in the NIT
Nine of the 16 first round games saw the lower seed advance in the NIT. Every No. 3 seed lost while No. 1 seed California was upset by No. 8 CSU Bakersfield. Two No. 2 seeds (Houston and Georgia) also lost at home.
UTA will return home to host the second round match up with the No. 7 seed Akron Zips later this week.
The Cougars finish the season with a 22-12 record, which marks the 12th-straight year the team has won 20 or more games in a season.
This season was the first under coach Rose that the final game was a loss in Provo. Combining the final two losses of the year, BYU was outscored 186-139.
“We need to work,” Rose said. “We need to find a group of guys that can get together and be able to overcome a lot of the issues that we weren’t able to overcome this year.”