PROVO — Eight — as in consecutive missed shots from the field to end the game — proved to be more than enough to cost Utah a win over BYU in the Marriott Center Saturday night. The Utes’ inability to make a basket over the final 7:05 of play cost them a six-point lead and ultimately a 61-58 decision to the Cougars. They missed five 3-point shots and three shorter attempts during the decisive stretch.
“I really think as complicated as you sometimes make the game of basketball it comes down to us hitting one of those threes or one of those twos at any point and it changes the complexion of the game,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
The Utes’ drought began after Glen Dean hit a 3-pointer to make it 52-46. It allowed the Cougars to climb back into contention and eventually seize control of the rivalry game.
“They were getting some stops and coming down and scoring,” Dean said. “The momentum just kind of slipped out of our hands.”
Dean said that BYU’s switch to a zone stunned them in the second half. The Utes, he explained, got stagnant and didn’t move the ball like they had in the first half.
Utah built a 12-point lead before the break and held a 35-36 advantage at halftime. The Utes had 22 points in the paint and shot 46.4 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes.
“I was really impressed with our focus and energy coming out,” said Krystkowiak, who acknowledged that BYU’s zone defense had a definite effect. Even so, he said that the Utes had some open looks but just didn’t make shots down the stretch.
“We’re going to learn a lot from this and continue to move forward,” said Dean, who finished with 10 points.
Jordan Loveridge led the Utes with 14. Jason Washburn and Dallin Bachynski contributed nine and seven, respectively.
“We’ve got some guys who are willing to lay it on the line and on another night those shots we missed will go in and we’ll have a different result,” said Krystkowiak, who was pleased with how his team played after Wednesday’s emotional victory over Boise State.
The Utes (6-3) return to action Dec. 18 at home against SMU.
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