MORAGA, Calif. — Despite Eric Mika’s 28 points, BYU men’s basketball fell to No. 19 St. Mary’s 81-68 at the McKeon Pavilion Thursday night.
“St. Mary’s does a really good job countering everything you try to do,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “Our guys never folded, but the main thing is St. Mary’s just executed the game better than we did.”
In addition to his 28 points, Mika pulled down 10 rebounds for the Cougars. Transfer Elijah Bryant scored 11 points off the bench, including two 3-pointers, and Nick Emery added nine points. Coming off a knee injury, Bryant played for the first time since Nov. 23.
St. Mary’s outshot BYU 55.4 percent to 44.3 percent, including 64.3 percent in the first half.
BYU (11-5, 2-1 WCC) and SMC (13-1, 3-0 WCC) traded buckets en route to an 18-18 tie with 12:36 on the clock. Mika scored nine of the Cougars’ first 18 points. The Gaels then pulled away on a 13-2 run to take a 33-20 lead with 8:59 left in the half.
A 3-pointer from freshman Steven Beo with 2:16 brought BYU within five points, 39-34. St. Mary’s hit a layup and 3-pointer to extend their lead, 44-36, heading into halftime.
Mika came out of the break scoring seven-straight points in three minutes for the Cougars, once again coming within five points, 48-43. The Gaels then increased their advantage and maintained a double-digit lead the final 12 minutes of the game before coming out with an 81-68 win.
BYU returns to Provo to host Pacific Saturday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised live on BYUtv and broadcast live on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.