By TIM KORTE
AP Sports Writer
PROVO, Utah (AP) (Mar. 15) -- Terrell Lyday scored 15 points, hitting 5-of-6 from 3-point range, and Michael Vranes added 14 points as BYU beat Bowling Green 81-54 on March 15 in the NIT's first round.
The Cougars (21-10) won for the fifth time in their last six games and will play next week against the winner of Thursday night's game between Colorado and
Bowling Green (22-8) came in as the nation's No. 3 shooting team (49.8 percent), but BYU held the Falcons to 34 percent (9-of-26) in building a 38-28 halftime
lead. Bowling Green finished 32 percent (17-of-52) from the floor.
Dave Esterkamp led the Falcons with 19 points.
Coach Dan Dakich wanted to see his team run after the Falcons were lulled into a halfcourt game by Miami, Ohio, during a first-round upset at the Mid-American
But BYU showed it can run, too. The Cougars averaged 70.4 points per game this season and, after the teams banged inside through the first half, BYU took
control with a 10-3 run over the last 3:48 before the break.
The Falcons, regular season champions in the MAC, grew increasingly frustrated from the opening tip.
Lyday heated up early in the second half, connecting three times from 3-point range in the first 5:30 as BYU stretched the lead to 51-39. It was 55-40 with 11:33
to play after an inside basket by Eric Nielsen, who scored 13.
The Falcons gave up too many easy baskets and couldn't get much going offensively, either.
MAC player of the year Anthony Stacey, Bowling Green's leading scorer at 17 points a game, was held to three first-half points and finished with 11. The Falcons
also had 17 turnovers.
It seemed nothing would go right for the Falcons. Vranes scored on a putback with 6:16 to play, giving the Cougars a 62-46 lead, after the ball went off the hands
of three Bowling Green players.
Mekeli Wesley added 13 points for BYU.