BYU freshman TJ Haws described Saturday night’s loss perfectly: “frustrating.”
“I feel like we are better than we showed tonight,” Haws said. “I think this team is going to stick together and I think we still got a shot at this thing and we’ve still got a shot at this team. Now is where our team either breaks or we come together.”
The Cougars (19–10, 10–6) fell to the Saint Mary’s Gaels 70–57 in the packed Marriott Center. Besides a couple of two-points leads in the first six minutes of the games, the Cougars trailed the Gaels the majority of the game, which BYU coach Dave Rose said is a dangerous situation for this team.
“Now is where our team either breaks or we come together.” — TJ Haws, BYU freshman
“We’re a team that plays from ahead a lot and we’re really uncomfortable playing from behind,” Rose said. “It was important for us to get them in that position, but that never happened.”
Rose said the Gaels (24–3, 14–2) seemed comfortable in the Marriott Center as they played the game exactly how they wanted. On the other hand, the Cougars couldn’t get anything moving how they wanted it to.
“It seemed like we shot it when we should have passed it and passed it when we should have shot it,” Rose said.
BYU lacked an offensive rhythm and had limited players contributing to the score. BYU sophomore Eric Mika led the Cougars with 18 points followed by freshman Yoeli Childs, who had 13 points and led the Cougars with 7 rebounds. Childs rolled his ankle with 15:29 left in the game and had to leave the court. However, Childs returned to action after taping his ankle.
“Sometimes the adrenaline allows you to play. Hopefully, that thing doesn’t swell big,” Rose said after the game. “He came in and fought and gave us all he could, but it wasn’t enough tonight.”
A third Cougar, Haws, was in double figures with 11 points. Disappointedly, the bench didn’t help much on the offensive end for the third game in a row. It wasn’t until Rose subbed out all of his starters that the Cougars were finally able to get points from the bench. BYU freshman Colby Leifson hit a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in the game. And those subs came because the team is tired.
Leading scorers Haws and Mika were both subbed out for the remainder of the game with 4:47 and 2:53 respectively. With injuries, the team has a shorter roster. Rose even said one of the players asked to come out tonight for a quick breather.
“These guys are playing a lot of minutes,” Rose said. “If they were ahead and they were attacking and playing aggressively and things were going well, I don’t think they’d look that tired. There’s a way that you can have your spirit broken when you’re frustrated.”
One thing that Haws, Mika and Rose can agree on is they still believe in their team despite the frustrating loss.
“I think it’s a mentality that the season is not over, that we’ve still got a shot at this thing,” Haws said. “But I think we have tough guys on this team. I think Monday we are going to bounce back.”
A note on seniors
BYU celebrated senior night at the last home game of the season on Saturday. While neither senior was able to play — both Kyle Davis and L.J. Rose had knee surgery at different points this season — the Cougars expressed their gratitude for their leadership.
“I had them both talked to the team before the game tonight,” Dave Rose said. … “I wanted them to participate in this event and have a chance to speak to the guys. I thought they were both great. That leadership it can help you from the bench, but I think tonight we needed a little more.”