We fought back. We showed signs of aggression. But the bottom line is, we lost. —BYU forward Brandon Davies
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — From the outset, it was clear that BYU could be in for a long 40 minutes at the Barclays Center against Florida State.
The Cougars turned the ball over on their first three possessions. They were without forward Brandon Davies, who picked up two early fouls, for a big stretch in the first half. And while BYU shot a woeful 33 percent from the floor, the Seminoles scorched the nets, shooting 58 percent, including 11 of 20 from 3-point range.
That explains how Florida State tomahawk-chopped BYU, 88-70, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic semifinals Friday.
"The story of the night for us was we got in early foul trouble and we never really got in sync offensively," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I don't know if we could have gotten off to a worse start."
While BYU (2-1) suffered its first defeat of the season, it has a chance to earn its first win away from home Saturday (5 p.m. MST, truTV) when the Cougars play No. 20 Notre Dame (2-1). The Fighting Irish fell to Saint Joseph's, 79-70, in Friday's nightcap at the Barclays Center.
"It's a disappointing loss for us," Rose said. "Hopefully we can play better and bounce back (Saturday)."
BYU's bad start was the opposite of the Cougars' previous game, when the Cougars grabbed a 31-2 lead at home against Georgia State.
"It really affected the flow of things and the way we play," Davies said of the early fouls. "We like to start off quick and get a lot of easy points early and we weren't able to do that. I personally feel like I let my team down."
With Davies languishing on the bench — he left the floor with 18:23 left in the first half — guard Tyler Haws did everything he could to keep BYU in the game.
"It's huge when we lose Brandon," Haws said.
Haws scored the Cougars' first 11 points, and finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field. He also recorded nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
"Everyone was looking for a spark, and I tried to give that," Haws said. "I think at times we were playing really well together and looking like ourselves. At other times, we didn't look like ourselves. It felt like we weren't in our rhythm at all. I was scoring, but it didn't feel right. We finally got going, but it was a little too late."
Going into the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic semifinals, BYU knew all about Florida State's vexing defense.
What the Cougars didn't see coming was the exceptional shooting by the Seminoles (2-1). Guards Michael Snaer, Ian Miller and Devon Bookert combined to hit 9 of 14 from 3-point range. To compound matters, BYU allowed four and-one opportunities in the first half.
"Florida State has a lot of good shooters so one thing we tried to key in on was to get up in their faces and not let them have open shots," said guard Craig Cusick. "They did a good job, though, of driving to the basket and then kicking it out and by then they had open shots. They executed their game plan so well."
Meanwhile, BYU's Matt Carlino was 0 of 9 from the field. The Cougars shot a woeful 6 of 25 from beyond the arc as part of their 33-percent shooting.
"We shot 33 percent from the field. That's a number that really surprises all of our coaches and it surprises our players. Give Florida State a lot of credit. They sped us up and hurried us into quick shots," Rose said. "Besides that fact, Florida State shoots 58 percent from the field. Our defense was a little bit slow. Our rotations were slow. They did a great job of finding the open man. They attacked us pretty good. I can't fault the effort of our guys. We had 22 offensive rebounds. We had a lot of offensive rebounds to give because we missed a lot of shots."
When Davies returned to the floor with 9:31 remaining in the first half, he scored six straight points to pull BYU to within three, 31-28. Davies ended up scoring 19 points in 21 minutes of action.
The Cougars tied the score at 34 with four minutes left in the half, but Florida State finished with a flurry, going on a 10-2 burst, including a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
"That little run at the end of the first half, we'll probably kick ourselves a little bit," Rose said.
In the second half, FSU's 3-point shooting barrage continued. Meanwhile, Davies picked up his third and fourth fouls within 26 seconds of each other.
With nine minutes remaining, the Cougars trailed by 27 points.
BYU whittled the deficit to 14, at 84-70, with two minutes left, but it couldn't get any closer.
"We fought back. We showed signs of aggression," Davies said. "But the bottom line is we lost."
There were positive things that the Cougars can take from the setback, according to Rose.
"The fact that Tyler was able to make positive offensive plays for us is a real plus," he said. "We need to find more consistency in our offensive game. As inconsistent as our offensive game was, we're a lot better defensive team than that. They kind of exposed us. We need to do a way better job defensively."