Athens • The BYU Cougars proved to be no match — in the second half, at least — for one of the top national basketball teams in the world on Thursday in the Acropolis of Athens tournament in Greece.
The Italian National Team, ranked No. 7 in the FIBA world rankings and playing with three NBA stars, walloped the Cougars 102-63 at the Olympic Center in Athens.
Brock Zylstra led BYU with 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
It was the final game for the Cougars on their trip to Greece. They went 2-2 but played without two potential starters and had just nine available players on the trip.
The Cougars trailed just 43-36 at halftime, thanks to some torrid 3-point shooting by Zylstra, but couldn’t overcome Italy’s huge size advantage in the second half.
Danilo Gallinari, of the Denver Nuggets, Andrea Bargnani, of the Toronto Raptors and Marco Belinelli, of the New Orleans Hornets, played for the Italian team.
The Italians opened the second half on a 34-9 run and cruised from there. They shot 70 percent from the field, while holding the Cougars to 43 percent.
On Tuesday BYU fell 83-54 to homestanding Greece, No. 4 in the FIBA world rankings.