Brock Zylstra’s 5th 3-pointer of the first half swished through the net and BYU’s bench broke out in wild cheers.
The 6-foot-6 guard is usually a last minute addition in the Cougars’ prolific offense, but he was impossible to miss, helping BYU simply beat Southern Miss 79-62 in the NIT quarterfinals.
Tyler Haws led the Cougars with 25 points, but it was Zylstra’s 23 points – including 18 in the first half – that sparked BYU Cougars (24-11) to the easy victory. The senior hit 7 of 12 shots, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. He came into the game averaging 7.3 points.
”You have Tyler and Brandon (Davies) – they get lot of attention,” Zylstra said. ”I was the beneficiary of that. Just standing on the outside and they started falling. After a while, I wanted them to give me the ball each time.”
Southern Miss (27-10) lost for just the 2nd time in 2 seasons at Reed Green Coliseum. The Golden Eagles were controlled by Daveon Boardingham’s 18 points while Jerrold Brooks added 13.
Golden Eagles shot just 21 of 63 (33.3%) from the field and its zone defense couldn’t contain BYU’s shooters. The Cougars shot 11 of 27 (40.7%) from 3-point range.
”When we see zone, our eyes light up,” Zylstra announced. ”Regardless that they’re active in their section and do a good job, we were feeling it tonight and shot the ball pretty well.”
Davies scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to carry on a BYU frontcourt that outmuscled Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The Cougars had a 47-42 rebounding advantage.
BYU (24-11) went on an 11-0 run early in the 1st half and never trailed again, leading by double digits the whole 2nd half. The Cougars were spurred by Matt Carlino’s deep 3-pointer just before halftime that pushed their advantage to 40-29.
”Our guys got a lot of energy from that,” Rose recounted.
Carlino scored 15 and had 9 assists. NFL betting lines
Golden Eagles jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but that was the end of the good news for the Southern Miss.
BYU scored the next 11 points and never trailed again. Each time Southern Miss gained some momentum, Zylstra or Haws would respond with a timely basket. The BYU Cougars hit 7 three-pointers in the first half.
Golden Eagles Coach Donnie Tyndall stated that he expected Haws, Davies and Carlino would give Southern Miss’ defense difficulty. But Zylstra’s night was the difference.
”BYU is a really, really good team,” Tyndall said. ”In watching tape coming in we realized they were deceptively athletic and they used to be an excellent shooting team. We called them the 3-headed monster. Tonight, they added a fourth.”
Southern Miss have been undersized all year – with 6-6 Jonathan Mills and 6-7 Boardingham manning the post – but has been able to use its quickness to mitigate that disadvantage.
The problem for the Golden Eagles was that the Cougars were both tall and fast and they’d difficulty getting clean looks. Leading scorer Dwayne Davis finished with just 8 points in his final college game on 4 of 16 shooting from the field.