Cougars claw past Bears 90-71 to advance in NIT

(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

BYU vs. Mercer box score
BYU vs. Mercer postgame notes and quotes
BYU vs. Mercer photo album

PROVO, Utah – No. 3 seed BYU basketball knocked down 10 3-pointers in a 90-71 win over No. 7 seed Mercer on Monday in the Marriott Center to advance to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament. The Cougars will play Southern Miss on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CDT on ESPNU in the NIT quarterfinals.

Matt Carlino and Brock Zylstra were lethal from treyville, knocking down a combined nine triples. Carlino tied a career best with five and Zylstra added four. Carlino totaled 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals while Zylstra posted 14 points, four boards, two helpers and one steal.

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Brandon Davies notched his 10th double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds while Tyler Haws added 24 points. Davies also contributed three assists and two steals and Haws snagged two rebounds, two assists and one block.

BYU shot 46.0 percent for the game and made 10 of 24 from behind the arc. Mercer kept pace with the Cougars, shooting 43.5 percent but BYU had the advantage on the boards, outworking the Bears on the glass 43-31 for the game.

The contest started on a 3-point barrage. After Mercer hit one on its first possession BYU came roaring back with three-consecutive triples, including two from Carlino to make it 9-3 in the opening two minutes of play.

BYU’s pace cooled off with 13:30 to go in the first half but the Cougars still had a 14-6 advantage. Davies added a 3-point play to make it 17-8 just over a minute later.

Carlino hit his third trey of the game, Davies took a charge on the defensive end and Nate Austin converted an easy layup to push BYU’s lead to 28-11 as part of 9-2 run with 8:10 to go in the first half.

Ten-straight points by the Bears kept them in it as BYU held onto a 32-28 lead with 4:35 to go until halftime. Davies broke the run with an easy lay in from a Carlino pass.

Back-to-back threes from Carlino and Zylstra inside of two minutes put BYU’s lead back to double digits at 44-30. Mercer closed the half with consecutive scores but the Cougars still took a 44-35 lead into halftime.

Both teams shot high percentages in the first half with the Bears knocking down 51.2 percent and BYU making 48.3 percent. The Cougars made six threes to Mercer’s five and BYU outrebounded the Bears 17-13.

Mercer cut BYU’s lead down to four points in the first two minutes out of the locker room. The Cougars answered with Haws putting together an old fashioned 3-point play followed by a court-length pass from Carlino to Haws over a minute later, finishing with a dunk to stretch the lead back to 10 at 57-47 with 15:33 to go.

After another 3-point frenzy from both teams, Haws outhustled two Bears to save a possession at the 10 minute mark to spark the crowd and Davies was able to convert it into two made free throws. The play was part of a 9-0 run, pushing BYU’s edge to 74-60 with 8:22 remaining.

BYU continued to run with the help of another long dish from Carlino to Haws for another easy two. Austin hustled with three rebounds on one offensive possession for a put back bucket as part of a 15-3 run to make it 80-63 with 5:30 left in the game. Austin finished with four points, seven boards and one block.

The Cougars cruised the rest of the way to a 90-71 win.

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