NEW YORK – A furious rally that included three-straight treys from Matt Carlino in the final minutes fell short as BYU lost 76-70 to Baylor in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
"Congratulations to Coach Drew and the Baylor team," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "I thought they were just terrific down the stretch. They made every big play that they needed to make and I thought it was a great game. I thought both teams played hard. I thought it was a wellâ€‘played game. I'm really proud of our guys."
Neither team led by more than four points until the 8-minute mark in the second half when Baylor (22-14, 9-9 Big 12) took a five-point lead over BYU (24-12, 10-6 WCC) on a 3-pointer from Pierre Jackson. The Bears outscored the Cougars 12-7 from there for a 10-point cushion and a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Tyler Haws finished the game with a game-high 25 points and was 7 for 7 from the free throw line. Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies each notched double digits for BYU with 19 and 13 points, respectively, while Nate Austin tied his season high of nine points and led BYU with a career-high 11 rebounds.
Carlino hit five three-pointers in the second half, including three-straight from the 1:31 mark to the 32 second mark to put BYU within striking distance. However, Baylor’s Jackson, who had a team-leading 24 points, connected on 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory for the Bears.
Baylor hit a shot on its first possession of the game, but BYU answered back with a Davies hook shot to even the game at 2-2. Davies built some Cougar momentum early when he blocked an attempted fast break from Baylor and followed on the offensive side with a slam on a missed jumper by Carlino.
Following the TV timeout at 15:27, Baylor called up an in-bounds play that tied the game at 6-all. The score jumped back and forth following a Baylor 3-pointer and a hook shot from Davies. An offensive rebound from Austin with 13:58 remaining gave him a scoring opportunity to put BYU up 11-9.
Haws hit a fade away at the 12:53 mark and Baylor followed with a baseline jumper to keep the score tied at 13-13. Carlino tried to create some separation after following his own miss and finishing at the basket with 11:56 on the clock. Austin then hit a jumper to give BYU its biggest lead of the game at 17-13.
BYU held onto the four-point lead until the 9:12 mark when Baylor hit its second trey of the game to bring the score to 19-18.
The Bears took a one-point lead with 6:33 remaining and, on their next possession, earned a bonus opportunity on foul shots to go up 24-21. The lead was short lived, however, as Haws finished on a feed from Austin and completed a 3-point play to tie the game at 24.
BYU continued its offensive penetration and ball movement to go up by two with 5:24 remaining, but Baylor followed with a 3-point shot. Cory Calvert drove to the basket on BYU’s next possession to cut the Bear lead back to one.
At the 3:22 mark, Austin hit his third field goal of the night to tie his season high in points and put BYU within two points of Baylor at 33-31. Both teams stayed quiet until the 1:08 mark when Carlino hit his second field goal of the night to even the score at 33. Baylor knocked down an offensive put-back with just seconds remaining to go into the locker room up 35-33 at the half.
A minute into the second half, Carlino knocked down his first 3-point field goal to tie the game at 38. Haws took the lead for BYU on its next possession with a reverse layup, extending his point total to 13 in the game.
Both teams continued to exchange points in the half. Haws gave BYU its first lead since the 17:59 mark with a fast-break dunk at 12:51 to go up 45-44. Baylor didn’t make a field goal for four minutes, but was able to tie the game at 45-all on a free throw from Isaiah Austin.
With the score tied at 47, Baylor went on a 5-0 run to take the biggest lead of the night for either team at 52-47. BYU answered with its own five-point run, highlighted by an NBA-range 3-point shot from Carlino to tie the score. The Bears then surged ahead with a 12-2 run for a 64-54 lead.
BYU and Baylor exchanged points on free throws to hold the score at 69-59 with 1:42 left. Carlino made a quick 3-pointer at the 1:33 mark and, after a Baylor turnover, hit another quick trey to cut the Baylor lead to just four. Two foul shots gave Baylor some insurance, but Carlino followed with another 3-point shot to put the Cougars within one possession at 71-68 with 37.0 seconds to play.
Baylor responded with one free throw and added a fast break layup after a missed BYU three to lead 74-68. The Bears held onto the lead and earned the 76-70 victory to advance to the championship game of the NIT.