Las Vegas • The 2012-2013 BYU basketball team will be remembered as the one that couldn’t win close games when it absolutely had to have them.
In a West Coast Conference quarterfinal game on Friday night, the Cougars once again failed to make the big plays down the stretch and fell to San Diego 72-69 at Orleans Arena.
San Diego (16-17) will face Saint Mary’s in a semifinal on Saturday, while the Cougars (21-11) will sit back and wait for a probable bid to the NIT, their run of six straight NCAA Tournament berths seemingly over.
“It was a heckuva win for us,” said USD coach Bill Grier.
Johnny Dee led the Toreros with 25 points, and made some huge 3-pointers in the second half to keep USD close or barely ahead. It was Dee’s 3-point play with 2:12 remaining, a runner off the glass that drew a foul on Craig Cusick, that proved to be the biggest play of the game. It gave the Toreros a 65-62 lead after Brandon Davies tied it with a pair of free throws.
“Down the stretch, I thought our guys dug in and made the plays down the stretch to win the game,” Grier said.
Down by three, the Cougars seemingly came up with a steal, but gave the ball right back and Chris Anderson hit a pair of free throws to give the Toreros a five-point lead. USD held on from there.
Matt Carlino’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left cut it to one. After Dee made two free throws, Carlino’s desperation 3-point attempt for the tie rimmed out.
“It came down to the last shot, and we just came up a little bit short,” BYU coach Dave Rose said.
Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies scored 20 points apiece for BYU and Carlino added 13.
Anderson had 16 for San Diego as BYU once again had trouble containing the Toreros’ guards.
“After we beat them [at home] we knew we could beat them again,” Anderson said.
Trailing 35-28 at halftime, the Cougars roared out of the locker room after intermission looking like a different team than the one that was thoroughly outplayed in the first 20 minutes, and surged ahead 40-38 before the first media timeout.
Haws finally heated up for the Cougars after a dismal first half, and also got to the free-throw line consistently, but the Cougars quickly lost the lead just as fast as they got it. Dee’s 3-pointer with 8:19 left gave the Toreros a 54-49 lead, but BYU rallied to go ahead with just under six minutes remaining.
Carlino’s 3-pointer gave BYU a 58-56 and momentarily got the pro-BYU crowd into the game, but Anderson matched the long-range shot moments later. Then Haws gave BYU a 60-59 lead, only to watch Dee hit another 3-pointer from the corner.
That was the theme of the game: The Toreros had an answer for every BYU surge.
“We couldn’t get over the hump,” Rose said.
Rose used his eighth different starting lineup in the game, going with Nate Austin instead of Cusick after the Cougars were beaten on the boards rather handily in San Diego. Still, the Cougars gave up eight offensive rebounds, and seven second-chance points.
Haws, Carlino and Davies combined for 53 points, but the other Cougars had just 16.
“We just fought, battled, and made our way through their runs,” Anderson said.
O In Short • Failing to make the big plays down the stretch once again, BYU falls 72-69 to San Diego in a WCC tournament quarterfinal
Key Moment • Johnny Dee’s 3-point play with 2:12 minutes remaining breaks a 62-62 tie and the Cougars could never draw even again.
San Diego 72, BYU 69
SAN DIEGO (16-17) • Manresa 1-4 1-4 3, Rancifer 5-9 2-4 15, Kramer 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 5-11 4-4 16, Dee 7-17 8-11 25, Davis 2-3 2-2 6, Miles 0-2 0-0 0, Fajemisin 0-1 0-0 0, Sinis 0-1 0-1 0, Kok 3-4 1-2 7. Totals • 23-53 18-28 72.
BYU (21-11) • Davies 7-15 5-9 20, Austin 2-6 2-2 6, Haws 7-13 5-6 20, Carlino 5-11 1-2 13, Zylstra 2-5 0-0 4, Delgado 0-0 0-0 0, Cusick 2-3 0-0 4, Ambrosino 0-0 0-0 0, Sharp 1-1 0-0 2, Winder 0-2 0-0 0, Calvert 0-1 0-0 0, Kaufusi 0-1 0-0 0. Totals • 26-58 13-19 69. Halftime—San Diego 35-28. 3-Point Goals—San Diego 8-21 (Rancifer 3-5, Dee 3-10, Anderson 2-4, Miles 0-1, Davis 0-1), BYU 4-11 (Carlino 2-5, Davies 1-1, Haws 1-2, Austin 0-1, Zylstra 0-2). Fouled Out—Austin, Zylstra. Rebounds—San Diego 35 (Manresa 10), BYU 38 (Davies 9). Assists—San Diego 14 (Anderson 6), BYU 12 (Davies 8). Total Fouls—San Diego 18, BYU 21. A—7,896.