SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Cougars dropped another opportunity to significantly add to their tournament resume Saturday, falling on the road to No. 21 UMass, 105-96.
BYU was defeated in its third attempt to knock off a nationally ranked and undefeated opponent this season, allowing the Minutemen to shoot 55.6 percent (35-63) from the floor, the highest field goal percentage recorded against the Cougars.
“I think that this team caused us the most problems in our zone,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “They could spread us out because of their shooters. The way they shot the ball tonight, it's tough because they don't shoot as well on paper as they did today. This group, the way they played tonight caused us a lot of problems.”
I think that this team caused us the most problems in our zone. They could spread us out because of their shooters. The way they shot the ball tonight, it's tough because they don't shoot as well on paper as they did today. This group, the way they played tonight caused us a lot of problems.
Foul trouble for the Cougars starting low-post players didn’t help.
“Maybe we were just a step slow, we’ll have to go back and watch it,” Rose said. “The game was called really interestingly as far as plays at the rim were concerned.”
Junior Nate Austin was whistled for his second personal foul with 16:20 remaining in the first half and freshman Eric Mika picked up his second just over seven minutes later when he was given a technical foul.
“(Chaz) Williams came over and was standing over Tyler (Haws), so I was just trying to get him out of there so that there wouldn’t be any trouble,” Mika said. “I guess I pushed him. I thought I just put my hand on his chest to kind of get him out and he pushed me back, and they called the technical on me.”
Mika committed only two fouls in BYU’s previous two games combined, but was charged with his third under five minutes into the second half.
"The most frustrating part is I feel like I can't help as much on defense,” Mika said. “I can try and get rebounds, but I can't contest like I want to because I have to worry about fouls. They got a lot of easy buckets that I would have loved to contest and go up and get them.”
The Cougars didn’t have an answer for Minutemen point guard Williams, who topped his career-bests with 32 points and 15 assists.
“We had three or four different things set up so we could try to trap him and get the ball out of his hands,” Rose said. “He threw it away maybe once or twice, but he just dribbled through us. This is a really good little player, and he’s fast and quick. Tonight he was really shooting the ball well.”
It's the first time under Rose that BYU has failed to win a game in which it scored 90 or more points.
The Minutemen’s nine 3-pointers matched the most BYU has given up in a single game this season. The Cougars owned the rebounding edge but ended the game with only eight fast-break points, compared to the 26 they scored in the prior game against North Texas.
BYU improved its season average at the foul line, but the 69.1 percent team mark this season will likely continue to rank worse than over 150 other schools competing in Division I, as it did before action began Saturday.
Juniors Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino carried the offensive output, finishing with 25 points and 23 respectively, and together shot 18-of-34 (52.9 percent).
Haws had all six of the Cougars’ points in the final four-plus minutes of the first half. Over that span, UMass extended its lead from six to 11, forcing four turnovers.
Freshman Frank Bartley IV relied on his speed and athleticism to finish a few difficult layups at the rim, leading the visitors' reserves with 14 points.
In their last six attempts against ranked opponents, the Cougars are winless. They'll have one more chance before conference play begins to buck the trend at No. 13 Oregon Dec. 21.
BYU (7-3) hosts Prairie View A&M (2-5) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Dec. 11 with the tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. The Panthers were picked to finish fourth in their league’s preseason poll. Kyle Spencer is a writer and content manager for ksl.com. Follow him on twitter @kyledspencer.