When BYU took the court against San Diego in the quarterfinal round of the WCC tournament, the Cougars hoped to survive to play at least one more game.
They weren't able to make it happen, however.
Despite fighting hard in the second half, BYU fell to the feisty Toreros, 72-69, Friday night in Las Vegas.
The first half was characterized by aggressive inside play from BYU senior Brandon Davies and stellar guard play from University of San Diego standouts Johnny Dee (14 points per game) and Chris Anderson (10 points per game), with each squad matching the other’s scoring drives until the final buzzer sounded.
Though Davies jumped out to a hot start in the first half — grabbing seven rebounds, shooting 4-8 from the field and scoring 11 points, including one made field goal from beyond the 3-point line — the Cougars struggled to make baskets.
At the end of the first half, the Cougars were a grim 11-31 from the field (35.5 percent), and had connected on just one 3-point FG out of six attempts — a 16.7 percentage. Fortunately for the Cougars, USD experienced its own set of shooting struggles, shooting just 36 percent from the field. As the game progressed, the shooting struggles continued for both the Cougars and the Toreros, though the University of San Diego caught fire as the first half drew to a close. They extended their lead to seven with only minutes to play.
Friday's game featured a thread of interesting storylines — but perhaps none more important than the strong turnaround of Dee, who can normally be relied on for nearly 14 points per game. He had an up-and-down night, but finished with 25 points on 7-17 shooting. The stars for BYU, on the other hand, experienced success throughout the night, but failed to finish strong.
The Cougars had several opportunities to take the lead late in the game, but poor shot attempts and careless turnovers quickly diminished their chances for victory. With five minutes left in regulation they found themselves down five and were were forced to foul. The Cougars had some late chances but couldn't come from behind.
No one who witnessed the game will argue that BYU exerted a full effort, but it does not soften the sting of the loss or provide any sort of comfort as BYU begins preparation for a future without Davies. The Cougars now look forward to the daunting task of replacing several key players in 2013-14.
• The rebounding battle went to BYU, which finished the game with 38 rebounds, compared to USD’s 35. Though the Cougars outrebounded USD, the Toreros took better care of the ball, completing the game with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.2. BYU struggled to maintain possession at times, turning the ball over on 13 occasions.
• BYU sophomore guard and leading scorer for the season, Tyler Haws, caught fire during the second half and was a solid compliment to the outstanding play of Davies in the paint. Though the Cougars lost, Haws finished with 20 points.
• Brandon Davies finished the game with 20 pts, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Kyle Hunt provides instant analysis for the Deseret News' BYU sports coverage. He holds the position of Web Content Manager at Fusion 360 advertising agency in Salt Lake City, Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org