BYU basketball: Aggressive defense ensnares Cougars, lose 73-65 to Loyola Marymount
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — It's hard to say which was more stunning Thursday night at the Marriott Center — BYU shooting a miserable eight percent from 3-point territory, or the Cougars' 14-point loss to Loyola Marymount.
LMU's aggressive defense limited BYU to just two 3-pointers on 25 attempts and the Lions roared to an 82-68 victory in front of a crowd of 12,751.
The setback also snapped the Cougars' five-game winning streak.
"They did a great job on defense. They spread us out and made us take tough, contested shots," said Cougar forward Noah Hartsock. "They were very active as a team on the defensive end. They made it difficult for us to make the shots we normally do."
It marked BYU's worst shooting percentage from beyond the arc since 2004, when the Cougars made 1-of-15 3-pointers in a home win against UNLV. Thursday's game marked the third-most 3-point misses (23) in school history. The most 3-point misses in school history occurred in last year's NCAA Tournament loss to Florida (27).
Thursday's abysmal outside shooting performance came on the heels of Hartsock's worst shooting night of the season last Monday at San Diego. But against LMU, Hartsock buried a career-high 11-of-15 shots for a career-high 28 points.
But that wasn't enough to offset the Lions' defensive game plan and clutch scoring.
"They played a great game against us. They defended us really well," said coach Dave Rose. "They contested almost every pass and they contested every shot. Defensively, they had a really good game plan and made it really hard for us to get the ball in the post. When we got it in the post, they didn't bring a second defender, which is something we haven't seen for the last two or three games and they stayed on our shooters and contested shots."
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 16-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play. The Lions improved to 11-8 and 4-2.
The defeat damaged BYU's regular-season conference championship and NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.
The Cougars missed all 12 of their 3-point attempts in the first half and trailed by six points, 34-28, at halftime.
BYU's woes continued in the second half, as it missed another 3-point attempt before Brock Zylstra finally hit one with 15:37 remaining in the game.
At that point, the Cougars were down 46-41, and they controlled the momentum.
But LMU didn't fold, thanks in large part to the play of guard Anthony Ireland, who finished with 27 points, and forward Drew Viney, who scored 21. Ireland scored 20 in the second half.
Even when the Cougars whittled the deficit to one, 55-54, with eight minutes remaining, Viney responded with a 3-pointer to extend the Lions' lead. BYU's Brandon Davies scored a bucket, as part of a stretch that saw him score eight straight Cougar points, to make it 58-56 for LMU with just under eight minutes left.
Then BYU didn't score another field goal until just under one minute left, when Matt Carlino finally buried another 3-pointer.
By then, it was too little, too late.
"That was typical of the night," Hartsock said of the seven-minute scoring drought. "I don't think we were moving the ball quite as well as we're used to doing. It looked like we were a little bit stagnant. We were taking tough, contested shots. Those kind of factors led to that drought right there. It's something we have to continue to improve on. … Credit to LMU. They played great defense tonight and they made it tough to score on a consistent basis."
Rose said the loss can be attributed to more than just poor outside shooting.
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