Loyal Cougars

BYU starts fast, struggles late in tough loss to Iowa State, 90-88

Sidetracked by poor shooting, the Cougars missed an opportunity to grab a signature win over the Cyclones.

BYU came up just short against yet another ranked non-conference opponent on Wednesday, falling to No. 21 Iowa State in front of a raucous Marriott Center crowd, 90-88.

Georges Niang scored on three straight possessions in the closing minutes to push the Cyclones over the top. Niang was able to score over Nate Austin, who was moved over to guard him after Eric Mika was injured on a flagrant-2 foul late in the second half.

Mika was hit in the right eye and face on a play under the BYU basket, leading to DeAndre Kane’s ejection. The freshman big man’s status was not known after the game, with Dave Rose saying, “Eric will go have a scan to check his right eye. Right now it’s kind of up in the air for a couple of hours.”

BYU had two chances to take the lead or tie in the final few moments. On the Cougars’ penultimate possession, Tyler Haws was blocked by Daniel Edozie, and Kyle Collinsworth missed a difficult shot at the buzzer on the final play. Head coach Dave Rose was asking for timeout as BYU brought the ball up the court prior to Collinsworth’s heave, but it was not given.

The Cougars got a good performances from Matt Carlino, who put in 20 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds. Austin also added 13 rebounds. Haws, after missing two games with a lower-abdominal strain, played 33 minutes and added 20 points of his own, but struggled through a 6-for-19 shooting performance.

BYU struggled to make shots, particularly to close the game. The home team shot 43 percent on the night, but only 38 percent in the second half. They seemed to be pretty equal opportunity with their misses, as neither 3-point, mid-range or even many close shots fell in the second half. The Cougars also shot poorly from the free throw line (12-for-20) and from three (4-for-14) throughout the game.

The loss of Mika down the stretch certainly hurt BYU, but Kane had also played a huge role for the Cyclones — and he left the game tied as Iowa State’s leading scorer with 21 points, despite his early exit.

After the ejection, Haws made four straight free throws on the flagrant foul and the ensuing possession to cut they Cyclone lead to one, but the Cougars were unable to get stops on the defensive end.

Mika had carried the Cougars early, opening with 10 points and 4 rebounds on 5-for-6 in the first 9 minutes. All other BYU players opened 3-for-12. Mika finished the game with 19 points.

A Carlino-to-Mika alley-oop brought the house down midway through the first half, putting BYU up 12 — but a 0-for-7 Cougar cold snap following the dunk allowed Iowa Sate to take back the momentum and end the first half on an 18-11 run.

BYU’s Go Fast, Go Hard pace drew some good national attention, with ESPN’s Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman and Sport’s Illustrated/CBS’s Seth Davis all tweeting as they watched tonight.

Before the game, Iowa State blog Wide Right, Natty Light was worried about foul trouble, and indeed Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue all picked up three fouls in the first 30 minutes of the game, with Ejim and Hogue each eventually fouling out.

After fouling out, ESPN cameras caught Ejim flipping off the BYU student section. He later apologized in person and on Twitter, saying, “Definitely lost my composure today. I apologize to the BYU student section and Iowa state university. What I did was inexcusable and rude.”

BYU now travels to Kansas City to play Texas in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on Monday. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Wichita Sate-DePaul game on Tuesday.