LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For BYU, a disturbing trend developed at the end of the season.
In the Cougars' final three losses, including Thursday's season-ending 88-68 defeat at the hands of Marquette in the NCAA tournament, they got off to abysmal starts.
Against Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference semifinals, BYU fell behind 27-11 midway through the first half and could not recover.
Against Iona in last Tuesday's First Four matchup, the Cougars dug a huge hole, trailing 49-24, before orchestrating the greatest comeback in NCAA tournament history and beating the Gaels in dramatic fashion.
And, against the Golden Eagles on Thursday, BYU found itself down 35-17 with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
When asked about his team's slow starts, coach Dave Rose offered a succinct explanation: "I think we've played some pretty good teams."
Said forward Noah Hartsock, "It just happens. It seems like that's what's been happening. We were able to make that run last night, but we knew tonight, if we didn't have a great start, it would be a really tough time to get back in. Sometimes just how the game flows and how the season goes sometimes."
Guard Brock Zylstra said the Cougars need to fix the poor first-half performances as they start preparing for next season.
"We've got to get off to better starts. We need to start off games better and be more aggressive, put the pressure on the other team rather than have the pressure on us. I don't know why it's been happening. Maybe it's mindset. Maybe we were trying to feel out what the other team was trying to do. We've talked about it. Something we need to change is the mindset."