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Cougars close out Hokies in third-place game

Virginia Tech’s Landers Nolley II takes a first-half shot as BYU’s Connor Harding (right) and Zac Seljaas defend during the third-place game Wed­nesday night. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — The Brigham Young University basketball team knew how important the final game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational was for them.

The Lahaina Civic Center was not nearly as raucous as it was a few hours earlier for the championship game or even a close loss for Chaminade in the seventh-place game, but the Cougars’ 90-77 win over Virginia Tech was a thing of beauty to the BYU contingent.

“What an unbelievable effort they put on the floor,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “To get it together from start to finish, they did it absolutely together. It was extraordinary and I’m really excited for the future that we have together throughout the season.”

The Cougars (5-3) broke free from a 48-48 tie with a 15-2 run to take a 63-50 lead at the 11:42 mark of the second half. The run started when TJ Haws made a nifty layup and was fouled — although he missed the foul shot.

Haws’ jumper at the 6:00 mark made it 78-62 — the Hokies (6-2) closed within 84-74 in the final two minutes, but would not get any closer.

Haws led six Cougars in double-figures with 20 points — he was 7-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. He scored 17 points in the second half.

“I felt like you see the ball go through the hole one time and you get a little bit of rhythm,” Haws said. “But really I was just getting good looks and fortunately they fell.”

Pope said it was important to walk away from the tournament with a 2-1 record.

“It’s so big. It’s just so big for these guys,” he said. “Probably postgame it probably looked like we won the tournament championship. But for us to roll out of here, like, claiming third place in a tournament that’s just ridiculously stacked … I mean, it’s crazy.”

The Hokies leave Maui 1-2 despite its opening day upset of No. 3 Michigan State.

Landers Nolley II scored 22 points to lead Virginia Tech.

“Well, needless to say, Brigham Young has a very good basketball team with a heck of a coach. I think a lot of Mark,” Hokies coach Mike Young said. “And what they do offensively is difficult and I was worried about some coverages, and I thought we did a fair job. Nine first-half 3s is embarrassing, but I thought we did a fair job in certain sequences of the half. In the second half, they played like old people and we played like little fellas and they got the best of us.”

VIRGINIA TECH (6-2)

Horne 5-6 0-0 13, Alleyne 5-8 0-0 12, Radford 4-5 1-2 9, Bede 5-13 0-1 11, Nolley 9-18 1-1 22, Ojiako 1-2 0-0 2, Cone 0-3 2-2 2, Wilkins 1-1 0-0 3, Cattoor 1-2 0-1 3. Totals 31-58 4-7 77.

BYU (5-3)

Nixon 6-7 0-0 14, Lee 5-5 0-0 10, Haws 7-11 2-3 20, Barcello 5-12 0-0 13, Toolson 3-10 2-2 11, Troy 0-0 0-0 0, Nield 0-0 0-0 0, Knell 2-5 0-0 6, Maughan 0-0 0-0 0, Harding 2-5 1-2 6, Seljaas 2-4 4-4 10, Pearson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-59 9-11 90.

Halftime–Virginia Tech 37-35. 3-Point Goals–Virginia Tech 11-21 (Nolley 3-4, Horne 3-4, Alleyne 2-4, Wilkins 1-1, Cattoor 1-2, Bede 1-4, Cone 0-2), BYU 17-35 (Haws 4-7, Barcello 3-6, Toolson 3-9, Nixon 2-2, Knell 2-4, Seljaas 2-4, Harding 1-3). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Virginia Tech 27 (Nolley 7), BYU 27 (Toolson 7). Assists–Virginia Tech 14 (Bede 7), BYU 22 (Toolson 8). Total Fouls–Virginia Tech 13, BYU 16.