When you make just six field goals in the entire second half, and go the final eight minutes and 37 seconds of a game without making a single shot from the field, you are not going to beat a lot of college basketball teams, let alone the No. 12 team in the country.
The Cougars (5-2) learned that the hard way on Tuesday night in front of 8,326 fans at the Sprint Center falling 75-62 to Wichita State (7-0).
"Well, it was a pretty physical game," said BYU coach Dave Rose, who was assessed a technical foul — the second one of his head coaching career, if I am not mistaken — with 26.2 seconds remaining when the game was well out of hand.
"I think that our guys did a pretty good job of trying to get the space, but it closed down pretty quick. They are a group of really good athletes, and [Wichita State coach Greg Marshall] went deep into his bench. His guys had a lot of energy, and maybe we just ran out of gas a little bit."
The final score was a bit misleading; The Cougars trailed just 64-61 with 2:52 remaining after Tyler Haws hit a pair of free throws, and they got the ball back after a WSU turnover. Matt Carlino had a good look at a 3-pointer, but it didn’t go down after he made 4 of 5 3-point attempts in the first half.
"I thought it was in," Carlino said in the post game news conference.
Tyler Haws had a rough night when he wasn’t standing at the free-throw line. He was 11 of 11 from there, but just 3 of 15 from the field and finished with 17 points. Both Carlino and Haws made the all-tournament team, along with Texas’ Cameron Ridley and WSU’s Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker, the MVP. Baker was just 5 of 16 from the field, but also went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line to finish with 23.
Eric Mika added 10 points, but grabbed just one rebound and again spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble, playing just 25 minutes.
Nate Austin grabbed 12 rebounds, but committed a flagrant 2 foul late in the game and was ejected.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game, and both teams obviously were playing to win the championship there. I think that it came down to a few plays there late in the game," Rose said in his opening comments after the game. "Give Wichita State credit, they hit a couple big shots from the perimeter, got some big rebounds, and ended up with a big win.
I congratulate coach Marshall and his team."
Austin got the flagrant foul for elbowing Baker under the basket with about a minute left. He approached the Wichita State star in the tunnel outside the locker room after the game and apologized. The two walked out of the arena together, talking. Baker said in a post game interview room that he doesn’t think Austin saw him and believes the elbow was accidental.
Rose’s frustration with how the game was being called started to become evident about midway through the second half, when it was still tight. He seemed especially angry over a foul called on Kyle Collinsworth with 7:41 remaining when Collinsworth had the ball after a rebound and was trying to put it back up. Baker was laying at his feet, and it appeared the officials blew their whistles to protect Baker from getting landed upon.
"He said that on the second or third rebound that Kyle pushed the defender, and that’s how he ended up with the rebound," Rose said, when asked if he got an explanation for the call. "I was looking for an explanation for how he fell down in the first place. There were a lot of really physical plays in the second half. I think Wichita State did a better job of playing through them."
The Cougars were 0 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half, after going 5 for 10 in the first half from long range. The shots just stopped going in, and Rose and Carlino said WSU’s defense had a lot to do with it.
"I don’t think we were maybe attacking the rim as much as we wanted to. They did a good job defensively, too. Give them credit. But yeah, we went through too many lulls in the game where we just didn’t make any field goals," Carlino said. " … That’s just how physical they were. It was a physical game out there. We were fighting to get open some times on the perimeter. Their physicality, I thought, made them good defensively."
What did Rose think of Wichita State, which made it to the Final Four last year?
"We have played some pretty good teams this year. And I think that their patience on offense was really good, their execution, but I think their defensive game plan, they stayed with it for a long time. It is something that we could never really break through it," he said. "And I think that was probably the difference in the game. I just think that it is a team that stayed with its game plan for the full 40 minutes and it kind of works out."
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