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Louisville • The BYU Cougars were outrebounded 48-34 and overmatched inside in their 88-68 loss to Big East power Marquette on Thursday in an NCAA Tournament second-round game.
But perhaps this contest more than any other exposed what was feared to be, and what turned out to be, their greatest weakness this season.
There was no suitable replacement for superstar point guard Jimmer Fredette, which the Cougars knew would be an impossible task.
"That seemed to be our challenge as a coaching staff," coach Dave Rose acknowledged after the Cougars committed 17 turnovers many of them the result of Marquette's defensive pressure in the blowout. " … We had such consistent play from our front line, but I think that we really kind of juggled our guard line depending on individual play that night."
Freshman Matt Carlino, ever the gamer, was overwhelmed by Marquette's quicker, faster guards and struggled again. He was 2-for-10 from the field and committed five turnovers in 32 minutes.
"Matt had a tremendous year, and he's going to be disappointed in how he played tonight," Rose said. "But I think that as a true freshman, when you are in your 20th game, 21st game, those are places where you've never been before as a player. I think this experience has been extremely valuable for him."
Rose acknowledged that inconsistent outside shooting was also a problem the Cougars never solved.
"Somewhere in the middle of the season, our confidence, as far as our perimeter shooting, became an issue," he said.
Cusick on cue
Walk-on Craig Cusick saved one of his better games for the NCAA Tournament, scoring 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting from 3-point range and 3-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line. He committed only one turnover in 29 minutes.
"I feel like we had the energy and the effort tonight, just made a few too many mistakes," Cusick said. "We had chances … but Marquette did a good job holding us off."
Sad day for seniors
With a blocked shot Thursday against Marquette, Noah Hartsock moved into a tie with Shawn Bradley for second on BYU's career blocked shots list with 177. With 15 points, Hartsock finished his career with 1,191 points, 26th most in BYU history.
BYU's other senior, Charles Abouo, took only one shot in the final game of his career, sinking a 3-pointer, but finishes as the winningest player in school history, having played in 113 victories.
"These two seniors, Charles and Noah, are special guys," Rose said. "They've been involved in more wins than any players in the history of the school. So we will miss them. I will miss them personally."
BYU is now 15-30 in NCAA Tournament games, and Rose is 4-6. … Hartsock scored 96 points in NCAA tourney games, third-most at BYU behind Fredette (184) and Danny Ainge (107).