As well as BYU played offensively in the second half, the Cougars were atrocious at the end of regulation and overtime and it cost them a victory in Boise.
BYU trailed by nine points early in the second half but led Boise State 64-62 in the extra session with 2:46 to play. That’s where the Cougars dried up offensively, which allowed the Broncos to pull away for a 72-68 win.
“I’m super disappointed,” BYU coach Mark Pope said in his post-game radio interview. “It was an unbelievably poor job on my part. This is a new team and we knew we would grow in fits and starts. Part of the game we had some strange lineups out there just trying to stay alive. I preach to these guys to trust our actions but I wasn’t giving them the trust in the right ways.
“We spent a lot of this game being desperate for answers. I’m incredibly proud of how our guys fight. We just didn’t come up with the right answers at the right time.”
Justinian Jessup drained a step-back 3-pointer after pushing T.J. Haws away and Robin Jorch scored inside to give Boise State a 67-64 lead with 1:34 to play in the extra session. Haws missed a wide-open 3-pointer that would have tied the game and on BYU’s next possession, Jake Toolson attempted a foolish behind-the-back pass that was easily stolen by the Broncos and converted into a dunk on the other end for a 69-64 lead with 40 seconds to play.
Derrick Alston Jr. led Boise State (2-2) with 26 points and 11 rebounds with R.J. Williams adding 18 points. Jessup scored all seven of his points in the overtime session.
Toolson paced BYU (3-2) with 19 points on 7 of 20 from the field. Haws scored 10 points but made just 5 of 16 from the field (0 of 8 from the 3-point line) and Connor Harding had 10 points as well.
“We made a great run there in the second half,” BYU’s Alex Barcello said. “We’ve got to keep working and keep getting better. Some things we didn’t execute as well as we can. We’ll go back to Provo and have a practice and keep getting better.”
BYU was 7 of 27 from the 3-point line and shot just 38 percent (28 of 74) from the field.
The first half was one the Cougars would like to forget. BYU shot just 8 of 32 from the field (25 percent) and 2 of 10 (20 percent) from the 3-point line, including a stretch where it clanked nine straight shots.
Boise State wasn’t much better shooting the ball early but the Cougars had a hard time figuring out how to slow down the 6-foot-9 Alston, who scored 14 points in the first half. BYU led 12-9 after a 3-pointer by Trevin Knell at the nine-minute mark, but the Broncos went on a 14-2 spurt over the next four minutes with seven points from Alston to claim at 23-14 lead. The Cougars trailed 27-20 at the break.
BYU was much better shooting the ball to start the second half, making 7 of its first 10 shots. Dalton Nixon was active early and Harding came off the bench to hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 12-2 run as the Cougars roared back from a nine-point deficit to take the lead, 39-38, with 13:31 to play. The two teams traded the lead eight times in the final 10 minutes, with the Broncos tying the game on a free throw by Marcus Dickinson with 1:27 to play. BYU missed three good looks on its next possession, including a wide-open follow shot by Nixon, but Boise State missed a shot on its end to give the Cougars the final possession of regulation. Toolson air-balled a fall-away jump shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
“Clearly that was wrong (offensive) call because it didn’t work,” Pope said. “It was a situation where the guys needed me to help more. That situation was probably a clear case of leaving those guys out to hang. I should have stopped our possession and had them come over so we could organize it. I should have given these guys a platform to work with that was more engaging than what we got. We got exposed in the first half with our trust and we certainly got exposed in the last few minutes with our trust.”
BYU travels to Hawaii next week for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, opening with UCLA on Monday.