Mika pushes the Cougars past the Lions in 85-77 win
PROVO, Utah – Four players reached double figures in BYU basketball’s 85-77 win over Loyola Marymount in the Marriott Center on Saturday night.
"It was a pretty physical game," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I thought they were really aggressive on both ends of the floor. There were times when we were hesitant and when we turned the ball over too many times. For the most part we attacked pretty well. Despite the turnovers and free-throw shooting, I thought it was a pretty good win for our guys."
Free-throw shooting and rebounds made the difference in the win. BYU (16-7, 7-3 West Coast Conference) made 28 free throws, which is more than the amount of free throws attempted (25) by LMU (10-11, 3-7 WCC). The Cougars also outrebounded the Lions 46 to 32.
Eric Mika led all scorers with 27 points, nearly earning a double-double with nine rebounds. He also tied his career high in blocks with four. TJ Haws scored 19 points, including three treys. Nick Emery and Yoeli Childs reached double figures in scoring as well with 11 and 10, respectively.
Mika started the game with five quick points to get the Cougars up early. The Lions responded, however, taking the 8-7 lead with 17 minutes left in the half. A step-back jumper from Mika put BYU back on top, but the two teams traded leads for a few minutes.
The Cougars started to pull away by going on a 9-2 run, capped off with Steven Beo dishing it to Mika for the alley-oop. That put the home squad up 26-18 at the 10:23 mark. Free throws from Beo two minutes later gave BYU its first double-digit lead, 30-20.
LMU fought back into the game, putting together an 8-2 run to tie the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes until the break. The Cougars battled to regain control, scoring five straight to earn a 39-34 advantage with 3:27 on the clock.
The two teams battled in the final minutes of the first half for the lead heading into the locker room. The Lions were up 40-39 with less than a minute to go, but free throws from Mika and a breakaway layup by Emery gave the Cougars the 43-40 edge at the break.
Haws caught fire to start the second half, drilling two 3-pointers to push the lead to 49-44 in the first few minutes. After the two teams traded baskets for a few minutes, Haws hit another trey to extend the lead to 59-51 with 15:08 to play.
Starting with Beo’s layup at the 16:20 mark, BYU got rolling. The Cougars went on a 12-2 run, led by five points from Haws during that stretch, to get up to a 64-52 lead with just under 10 minutes to go.
Mika scored five points of a 6-0 run for BYU that extended the lead to 70-54 at the 8:27 mark. However, LMU gradually begin to close in on the lead. The Lions went on an 8-0 run to make it 71-64 before a jumper from Mika at the 6:07 mark stopped the momentum.
After a driving layup from Elijah Bryant with 4:41 to play, the Cougars did not score a single field goal until 29 seconds were left and Mika scored a bucket. BYU was forced to keep the game in hand at the free throw line, making 8 of 10 in the last four minutes. Those shots from the charity stripe were enough to hold off the Lions, 85-77.
The Cougars continue their three-game home stand, hosting nationally ranked Gonzaga on Thursday at 9 p.m. MST. The conference matchup will be televised live on ESPN2 with radio options on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM and BYU Radio –Sirius XM 143.
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