In the final game and the season, BYU fought through illnesses and injuries that left a squad missing three key starters a shell of its former self, a far cry from the one that opened the season with high hopes and a win over NCAA Tournament participant Princeton.
Not only was starter Elijah Bryant out Wednesday, point guard TJ Haws fell ill Tuesday night and played admirably, but "you could tell he wasn't himself tonight," Rose said, while also noting that starting forward Yoeli Childs was sick all last week and still recovering from those flu-like symptoms.
"I don't usually talk about outside issues, but one thing people need to know is that this game was kind of a microcosm of our season as far as personnel issues are concerned," Rose said. "I think that explains a lot of the step-slow issues. … I thought we could overcome Elijah's [knee injury] and taking another starter out of our lineup, but when it came right down to it, we just weren't good enough."
The Cougars (22-12) managed to bounce back from devastating losses all season. They stunned No. 1 Gonzaga a week after losing 70-57 to Saint Mary's.
But not Wednesday night.
The season ended with a 16-point loss to the NIT's under-seeded Mavericks (26-8) eight days after an 81-50 loss to Saint Mary's in the conference tournament.
"I think if we had had a full slate of guys tonight, you would have seen that same thing," Rose said. "You would have seen a group of guys bounce back."
That said, Rose quickly credited UTA for being "really good" and putting BYU in "difficult situations on almost every possession" and doing a "much better job" of dealing with more than its share of roster-depleting injuries and illnesses.
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BYU's NIT appearances under Dave Rose
Year • Results
2006 • Lost to Houston, 77-67
2013 • Beat Washington 90-79, beat Mercer 90-71, beat Southern Miss 79-62, lost to Baylor, 76-70
2016 • Beat UAB 97-79, beat Virginia Tech 80-77, beat Creighton 88-82, lost to Valparaiso, 72-70
2017 • Lost to UT Arlington 105-89