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Eric Mika’s career high propels BYU Basketball past San Francisco

Despite a slow start, Eric Mika turned in a great performance to help overcome shooting struggles from T.J. Haws and second half foul trouble from Nick Emery.

NCAA Basketball: Pacific at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Mika played one of his best games of the season with a career high 31 points and 12 rebounds to lead the BYU Cougars to an 85-75 victory over the San Francisco Dons Thursday night at the Marriott Center. Nick Emery continued his career trend of great games against USF, scoring 22 points on 7/10 shooting, 4/6 from beyond the arc. Elijah Bryant scored in double figures for the third time in as many games since returning from injury, scoring 14 points on 4/7 shooting.

Emery started out on fire, scoring 18 points in the first half on 6/8 shooting, as the Cougars jumped out to a 25-13 lead in the first ten minutes of the game. 7-footer Jimbo Lull got San Francisco back into the game by scoring 10 consecutive points to cut the BYU lead to 36-32. Despite having difficulty corralling a couple of passes and rebounds, Mika hit two free throws in the final seconds to give the Cougars a 38-32 lead heading into the locker room.

The second half started out on a poor note for BYU when Nick Emery picked up his third foul less than 90 seconds in. BYU opened up an 11 point lead behind Eric Mika’s ability to finish through contact in the post, but careless turnovers that led to USF fast break points cut the Cougar lead to 56-50 at the second media timeout. The highlight of the night came when Yoeli Childs made a great pass from the foul line to Mika who made a diagonal cut to the basket for an emphatic dunk to give BYU a 61-50 lead. Back-to-back blocks from Childs helped BYU stay an arm’s length ahead of USF toward the end of the game.

The Dons played a very scrappy game after giving up over 100 points to BYU in both games last season, but never cut the lead to fewer than 7 points in the second half. The Cougars knocked down their free throws and got easy baskets off inbounds plays for Mika and Childs in the final minutes to earn a hard fought home victory over the Dons. BYU will return to action on Saturday night when they travel to San Diego for a road contest against the Toreros.

News and Notes:

  • USF’s leading scorer Ronnie Boyce (16 points per game) played only two minutes in this game for unknown reasons. The team’s Sports Information Director said that Boyce was healthy during the game.
  • BYU had just six players play more than four minutes in this game: the usual five starters plus Elijah Bryant, who played 33 minutes off the bench.
  • Jamal Aytes returned to action for the Cougars after missing both games last week due to illness, but the Cougars were -5 in the two minutes he played in the first half.
  • Corbin Kaufusi has yet to break into Dave Rose’s rotation since returning from the BYU Football team. He did not play in this game after seeing limited action in the previous four.