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Free throws doom Weber State in loss to BYU

Weber State Wildcats forward Zach Braxton (44) puts up a shot over Brigham Young Cougars forward Eric Mika (12) as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
Weber State Wildcats forward Zach Braxton (44) puts up a shot over Brigham Young Cougars forward Eric Mika (12) as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.
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PROVO — Missed free throws were the downfall for Weber State in its 77-66 loss to BYU Wednesday night at the Marriott Center and Weber coach Randy Rahe left no doubt about that fact in postgame interviews.

While the Wildcats played solid throughout, the free-throw shooting was otherwise horrendous, leaving Rahe incredulous after his team's performance from the stripe.

"Free throws. All you have to do is look at free throws," Rahe said after being asked to assess his team's overall performance.

A look at the free throws tells an ugly story. The Wildcats, who entered Wednesday's game shooting 69 percent from the stripe, finished 11 of 26 from the line against the Cougars for reasons Rahe struggled to explain.

"We've been shooting free throws pretty well, but I think sometimes when guys miss some early it becomes contagious," Rahe said. "I think that's what happened to our team. We saw some guys miss and got a little tight."

Considering how tight Wednesday's game was throughout, had Weber State shot just its season average from the line, it might have made a world of difference.

"It's too bad because we played the way we wanted to play tonight," Rahe said. "We took (BYU) out of transition and we challenged our guys to rebound with them. And we did both of those things. I just didn't see the hole in the dike of missing free throws."

Most of the rebounding for Weber State was done by Zach Braxton, who finished with 13 rebounds and 18 points before fouling out at the 6:29 mark.

"He's a good player and he battled (Eric) Mika and he played really, really well," Rahe said. "He was a man in there tonight, but we don't have enough bigs right now...it short-handed us, so yeah, it affected us when he fouled out."

As for Mika, who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, Rahe had plenty of praise.

"He's terrific. He's going to be a first-round (NBA) draft pick, whenever he decides to go," Rahe said. "But our kids battled him and I sure would have liked to have seen what would have happened had we made our free throws."

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney