More Marriott misery: BYU drops 57-56 heartbreaker to Saint Mary’s
It’s deja vu all over again.
Just when you thought BYU men’s basketball couldn’t possibly generate any further heartbreak, Marriott misery smacked back in full force.
A mere 16 days following Gonzaga’s late rally to stun the Cougars, another elite WCC squad in Saint Mary’s made its final trip to Provo worthwhile with a closing dagger to bury BYU 57-56 Saturday night.
“Obviously this was a very tough, disappointing ending to a terrific game against a great team,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “This Saint Mary’s team is dominating our league and they’re playing at an elite level. I thought our guys competed in every way, made big plays down the stretch, a couple of really nice comeback runs and they answered the bell in every way except getting a stop in the last ten seconds.”
Tied 55-55 with 23 seconds remaining, BYU controlled its own destiny in exorcising the late demons from Gonzaga, with Dallin Hall drawing a foul to attempt a pair of shots from the free throw line and possibly give the Cougars a two-point advantage.
Hall was in the midst of a career night in which he scored 23 points on 9-14 shooting, but the lone weakness of his game was the charity stripe — the worst possible place to go cold given the circumstances.
As soon as Hall’s first shot from the line failed to find the net, the hearts of the BYU faithful seemed to break in unison. Everyone had seen this movie before.
It didn’t matter that Hall’s second shot sank to put the Cougars ahead by one. Whether people wanted to admit it or not, everyone in the building knew it was over. Aidan Mahaney’s mid-range jumper with half a second left only confirmed the worst.
Hall’s 23 points were BYU’s most by a wide margin, with Fouss Traore adding 11 on a shaky 5-13 shooting line and the Cougar bench producing just six points altogether. BYU’s defense showed flashes of brilliance, single-handedly keeping the Cougars alive to the very end against the well-oiled Gaels machine.
“Our guys were really good tonight, just one possession not quite good enough yet,” Pope said. “The karma of the game will catch up though. If we keep pounding on this wall, we are going to break through it, especially with this young group.”
With the loss, BYU falls to 4-5 in WCC play, sitting below .500 in the conference standings this far into a campaign for the first time since 2005. The Cougars will look to rebound with a pair of home outings against LMU and Pacific this week.
“It doesn’t get any easier, so we just need to get better. We don’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves. We are in a little bit of a hole right now, but we are optimistic that we can keep getting better,” Pope said. “There is a lot of season left, with everything on the table, so we just need to get better.”