BYU’s Season Comes To Close In NIT Loss To Washington State

Mar 23, 2022, 9:08 PM

BYU - Washington State - NIT...

PROVO, UT - MARCH 23: Tyrell Roberts #2 of the Washington State Cougars passes off under pressure from Fousseyni Traore #45 and Te'Jon Lucas #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half of their quarterfinals game of the NIT tournament March 23, 2022 at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – In the all-Cougar battle between BYU/Washington State, the Cougs from Pullman were the ones that came away victorious. Washington State rolled to a 77-58 victory, ending BYU’s 2021-22 season and dashing the hopes of a trip to New York City to play in the final Madison Square Garden NIT Semifinal for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a recap of the game that saw Washington State bring BYU’s season to a close.

BYU’s offense goes stagnant to close out the first half

In the game’s opening minutes, BYU wasn’t fazed by the size and length of Washington State as Fousseyni Traore got a quick six points in the post. BYU jumped out to an 18-12 lead.

After that lead, the struggles started to mount for the Cougars in blue. In the second round, the high-powered offense that was on display against Northern Iowa wasn’t found in the final nine minutes of the first half against Washington State.

BYU only scored eight points in the final nine minutes, while Washington State scored 23 points. The Cougs from the Palouse went into the halftime locker room with a nine-point lead.

BYU knocked down only one three-pointer in the first 20 minutes and committed seven turnovers. A far different look than in the win over UNI, where BYU only committed six turnovers the entire game.

Washington State guard Michael Flowers, a fifth-year graduate player, led the way for the Cougs from Pullman with 12 points in the first half.

Washington State rolls in the second half

BYU didn’t go down without swinging. At the 14-minute mark, BYU started to get momentum on their side with a Caleb Lohner block at the hoop on WSU’s Andrej Jakimovski that led to a Te’Jon Lucas fastbreak layup. That bucket put BYU down by five, 42-37, and had the Marriott Center crowd of 12,094 hyped.

BYU came out of the timeout by getting a defensive stop and then Traore showed patience with a blocked layup, but officials called it goaltending, cutting the deficit to three.

WSU’s Roberts then hit a clutch three in the corner to put the Cougs on the Palouse back up by six.

BYU center Atiki Ally Atiki was called for a personal foul that, after a review, was upgraded to a flagrant after he pulled the hair of Roberts. It was a frustration foul by Atiki as he was begging for a post entry while the 5-foot-11 guard defended him. It was costly as Roberts buried the two free throws, then hit a long-range two to complete the four-point possession.

Then South Alabama transfer Michael Flowers began taking the game over for Washington State. Flowers scored 13 consecutive points for WSU to jump their lead up to 17 points.

The struggles on offense reared their ugly face for BYU again as the Cougs in blue made careless turnovers and lacked any flow or rhythm.

BYU never had a run in them the remainder of the game as WSU coasted to a 19-point victory.

The loss brings BYU’s season to a close while Washington State advances to face Texas A&M in the semifinals of the NIT at Madison Square Garden.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU’s Season Comes To Close In NIT Loss To Washington State