“I thought San Diego played a great game,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “I think as far as our team and this game, we competed really hard. I thought their size around the basket bothered us, but I thought we settled in during the second half. We just couldn’t sustain it. We had a possession or two to increase the lead and San Diego always had an answer.”
Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws led the Cougars (21-11) with 20 points each, while Davies added nine rebounds and eight assists. Matt Carlino recorded 13 points and seven rebounds.
BYU's streak of six straight NCAA Tournament appearances will now come to an end.
BYU suffered the loss despite shooting a better percentage (44.8 percent to 43.4 percent) and out-rebounding the Toreros, 38-35. BYU also outscored San Diego in the paint 32-28. Four San Diego blocks aided the Toreros (16-17), as well as 15 points off turnovers compared to BYU’s eight and 13 bench points to the Cougars’ six.
After a Davies bucket to open the game, San Diego went on a 7-0 run. Carlino tied the game at 11 with a deep two-pointer with 14:24 on the clock, but San Diego halted the Cougar momentum with an old-fashioned three-point play.
A Johnny Dee trey gave the Toreros an 11-point lead at 31-20 with four minutes to go until halftime. BYU cut it back down to 33-28 with an 8-2 scoring streak, aided by back-to-back buckets from Haws. BYU foiled two San Diego dunk attempts, ending the half with a 35-28 deficit.
Davies led BYU with 11 points at the half. He and Matt Carlino led on the boards with five apiece.
Nate Austin threw down a dunk in the opening moments of the second half, kicking off a 6-1 run that brought the score within two. Carlino tied it up again at 38 and set Davies up for a layup to take the lead.
“I think defensively we were way more aggressive in the second half,” Rose said. “I think that led to baskets in transition and to us playing a little bit better offensively.”
San Diego went back ahead on a 3-pointer and kept a small lead until BYU capitalized on a Torero turnover. After San Diego threw the ball out of bounds on the baseline, Haws popped a jumper through the hoop, tying the game 46-46.
But the Cougars couldn’t keep control, allowing San Diego to take a 54-48 advantage and forcing BYU to fight its way back.
Haws put BYU back on top with a layup before the Toreros reclaimed the lead on free throws. A 3-pointer by Carlino and another by San Diego’s Chris Anderson flip-flopped the lead once more with just over four minutes to play.
As the clock wound down, a layup by Brock Zylstra put the Cougars within striking distance, down 68-66. The Toreros distanced themselves with two Dee free throws. Carlino hit a shot from downtown to pull close once again at 70-69. Dee free throws again put San Diego up by three, but this time Carlino couldn’t drain the needed trey to tie the game and send it into overtime.
BYU now waits to learn its postseason fate March 17.