PROVO — BYU had another game in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center on Monday night. Win, and the team advances to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament. Lose, and the Cougar season would come to an end against the visiting Mercer Bears. Brandon Davies made sure that BYU will have at least one more game this year before he and fellow seniors Craig Cusick and Brock Zylstra graduate, after leading BYU to a 90-71 win.
Guards: BYU’s starting guards played probably their best game of this post-season in the Cougars' nineteen point win. Matt Carlino started the game off right as the Cougars ran out to an early lead. Carlino finished the contest with eighteen points, nine assists, six rebounds and only three turnovers. Fellow starter Tyler Haws was also a bright spot as usual for Dave Rose’s squad. Haws finished the game shooting only 33 percent on his three point attempts, but was effective in other aspects of his game. He had 24 points, two assists and two rebounds. Senior Brock Zylstra chipped in with fourteen points and six rebounds. Grade: A
Forwards: Brandon Davies' stellar post-season play continued as he made it clear to the crowd of more than 13,000 that his playing career as a Cougar would not end against the Bears in his home arena. Davies registered another double-double and closed out what might end up being his final home game with a game high 26 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals on 50 percent shooting from the field. Most impressive might have been his performance from the foul line as he made 10 of 11 shots. Nate Austin added four points, but grabbed seven rebounds and played with hustle whenever he was on the floor. Grade: A
Bench: Rose shortened the bench for this game, but did have the opportunity to pull out all of the starters for a well-deserved ovation from the crowd with just over a minute remaining. The bench stats weren’t necessarily impressive — four points and five rebounds — but the bench didn’t need to have their best game with how well the starting unit played. Although the points and rebounds were limited, so were the mistakes during their short court time. Grade: Incomplete
Overall: The Marriott Center crowd was larger than the previous NIT game against Washington, and the fans were definitely a factor in the energy of the team. BYU jumped out to an early lead and withstood all the runs that Mercer threw at them. The Cougars finally pulled away for good in the second half. The entire team contributed in positive ways and Coach Rose’s team turned in its most complete performance of the past couple weeks. If this game turns out to be the last at the Marriott Center this season, the Cougar players saved their best for last. Grade: A
Landon Walters is a history and political science major at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org