Saturday, December 31, 2016

BYU 81, Loyola Marymount 76: Cougars rally late behind Haws' 20-point effort

                                   Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter: @MotownApe

LOS ANGELES— On the last day of 2016, the Brigham Young University Cougars put on a late flurry in the game to scrap together an 81-76 win over the Loyola Marymount University Lions (7-6, 0-2 West Coast Conference).  

BYU will begin its 2017 calendar year with a four-game winning streak.

This game was a battle of who would hit a clutch shot last, which turned out to be BYU (11-4, 2-0 WCC). BYU freshman guard T.J. Haws of knocked down two three-point shots in the last two minutes of the game. 

“I felt like our biggest thing in the second half was energy,” Haws said.

Game Recap:

LMU played very well against BYU during the first half by attacking the paint early and often. This was shown by senior center Stefan Jovanovic, who scored eight points, on 3-of-3 from the field and two free throw makes in the first 16 minutes. 

BYU shot a paltry 35 percent from the field to finish the first half and went  8-of-14 on from the free throw line. 

Cougars coach Dave Rose believed his team lost its edge at numerous points in the game.

“The [Cougars] lost our composure a few times," Rose said. 

Composure served in LMU's favor as it help a 47-29 lead at the half on BYU.

Beginning the second half, BYU played with much more energy and execution than the first. After trading baskets with the Lions, Cougars forward Yoeli Childs took upon himself to help the team fight back into the game on both ends of the court and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. 

At the 6:54 mark, Haws hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 68-65. The Lions kept fighting to hold their lead as Trevor Manuel of  dunked the ball, holding on to their 74-69 lead with 3:41 remaining in the game.

BYU's Eric Mika added sturdy rebounding and made shots from the paint and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. 

At the two-minute mark Haws hits another three-pointer to tie the game at 76. Haws was not complete with his big game shooting, hitting yet another long-range make with 39 seconds remaining to put BYU ahead.

Haws' triple would be too much for LMU to overcome as BYU lead for the rest of the game.

With any young team, letdowns are more prone to occur and LMU coach Mike Dunlap admitted its breakdown.

“The [Lions] missed a host of free throws—[There was no] executing under pressure," Dunlap said. 

"Defensive execution and offensive execution. We’re [Lions] making those strides, and just have to get better there.”

Looking Ahead:

On Jan. 5, both teams return to the hardwood as BYU travels to take on No. 19 Saint Mary’s at the McKeon Pavilion, while LMU makes the short drive up the coast to face Pepperdine University in a Los Angeles-area rivalry. 

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