Mika, Emery lead Cougars over Lions in hard fought first round battle
LAS VEGAS — Behind Eric Mika's 25 points and 21 from Nick Emery, No. 3 seed BYU men’s basketball topped No. 6 seed Loyola Marymount 89-81 in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Basketball Championships held at the Orleans Arena on Saturday.
"It was a really hard fought game," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "Both teams came out comfortable and confident. But, I think I am most proud of our guys for responding to their runs. We’d get a little lead and they come back at us, and we were able to respond every time and that is a sign of a team that is playing tight together as a group and executing well. We are looking forward to the next round."
Fueled by three consecutive 3-point baskets in three trips down the court, the Cougars started the game on a 9-2 run. LMU countered with a run of its own to bring the Lions within three, 11-8, as Brandon Brown drained a deep 3-pointer.
After the Cougars jumped out to a six-point 16-10 lead, the Lions responded with 9-1 run to take their first lead of the game, 19-17, at the 12:23 mark of the first half.
LMU increased its advantage to five, 26-21, before Mika buried a pair of free throws to give BYU its first points in over five minutes of play. On the next Cougar possession, Mika tied the game at 26-all as the sophomore and All-WCC First Team awardee converted a 3-point play.
With 6:26 to go in the half, Yoeli Childs found Mika cutting down the lane for a dunk to give BYU a four-point 34-30 lead. After LMU made it a one-point game with 51 seconds on the clock, four-straight points from Childs gave the Cougars the 42-38 advantage going into halftime.
The Lions scored a quick four points out of the break to tie the game at 42-all, before Emery silenced the run with a trey. Mika then scored six-straight Cougar points to force an LMU timeout.
BYU continued to find success offensively, logging a 14-point lead at 65-51 with 12:52 on the clock. The Lions responded with full-court pressure to pull within seven, 69-62, as Buay Tuach finished a layup off of a Cougar turnover.
LMU continued its run, scoring five consecutive points to make it a two-point 69-67 game with 6:36 left. After a pair of 1 for 2 trips to the free-throw line for the Cougars, a Davin Guinn steal, followed by a Mika bucket, stopped the LMU momentum and gave BYU a 73-67 advantage.
At the 1:44 mark, Emery made two foul shots to give BYU a 81-74 lead. On the next possession, the Lions drained a 3-point field goal to bring them within four, 81-77.
Haws closed the game out with six consecutive free throws to secure the 89-81 win.
BYU men’s basketball moves on to the semifinals of the WCC Championships and will face either No. 2 seed Saint Mary’s or No. 10 seed Portland on Monday March 6 in the semifinals.
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