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Mika, Emery lead BYU to victory over LMU in WCC Quarterfinals

Defense and turnovers were a struggle at various points of this game, but BYU was able to avoid a major letdown a week after beating #1 Gonzaga.

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-BYU vs Loyola Marymount Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Mika scored 25 points on 9/14 shooting as BYU held on for a close victory over Loyola Marymount by a score of 89-81 in the West Coast Conference Tournament Quarterfinals. Nick Emery played one of his best games of this season, scoring 21 points on 5/7 shooting (4/6 from beyond the arc). Yoeli Childs looked much healthier in this game, recording his 6th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Elijah Bryant and T.J. Haws added 15 and 14 points respectively, as all five Cougars scored in double figures in the victory.

BYU came out hot to start the game, with four early three pointers from Haws, Emery, and Bryant. However, foul trouble and many questionable calls was the story of the first half. Four Cougar starters picked up two fouls in the half, while Emery picked up his third foul driving on a 2-on-1 fast break where he should’ve given up the ball sooner to Childs. BYU also gave up 9 offensive rebounds to LMU in the first 20 minutes. A microcosm of the rebounding issues of the first half was when LMU’s Brandon Brown missed a free throw, wasn’t boxed out by either BYU player at the top of the lane, and ran around to the left side of the lane to grab an offensive rebound. The Cougars once again succeeded on high-low passes from Childs to Mika (and vice versa), as the front court duo combined for 23 points to propel BYU to a 42-38 halftime lead.

Eric Mika pounded the offensive glass and finished around the rim, scoring 8 early points in the second half to give the Cougars a 58-49 lead five minutes in. BYU opened up a double digit lead for a stretch, but too many careless turnovers with Mika and Emery on the bench allowed LMU to cut the Cougar lead to 2. The Cougars were able to build the lead back up to 7 with 2:20 remaining behind some strong drives to the hoop from Elijah Bryant and active defense at the top of the 1-3-1 zone by Davin Guinn. BYU shot a remarkable 32 for 39 at the foul line, which helped close out the game in the final minutes despite a couple of late three pointers from LMU.

This was a very fast paced game, and BYU’s effort and focus varied wildly at different points of the contest. The Cougars only got one total bench point (a Guinn free throw), but limited bench production has been the norm since the injury to L.J. Rose. BYU will likely face Saint Mary’s in the semifinals on Monday night, where they will look to avenge a double-digit loss to the Gaels at home last month.

News and Notes:

  • Eric Mika and Yoeli Childs each recorded 4 assists in this game, primarily due to their success passing to one another on the high-low on offense.
  • BYU committed just 3 turnovers in the first half, but 12 second-half giveaways helped LMU climb out of a large deficit to give the Cougars a major scare down the stretch
  • The Cougars exactly covered the point spread for this game (which happened to take place in Las Vegas): They were 8 point favorites and won by 8.