San Francisco • Matt Carlino figured the Basketball Gods, whoever they are, owed him something on Thursday night after he’s suffered through a couple of subpar shooting games.
Hardwood deity delivered in spades, then, for Carlino against the San Francisco Dons, and BYU pulled off an Alcatraz-like escape at War Memorial Gym.
The freshman’s driving basket with 21 seconds remaining lifted the Cougars to an 85-84 win over the Dons in front of 2,875 fans — a 50-50 mixture of blue and green in a West Coast Conference classic. Those were Carlino’s 29th and 30th points, a career high, but the Cougars couldn’t celebrate just then.
BYU vs. San Francisco boxscore: http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/ncaab-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NCAAB/results/2011-2012/boxscore830494.html
After a timeout, the Dons had two good looks at potential game-winning baskets, but Rashad Green and Anthony Caloiaro missed shots and time ran out during a wild scramble for the loose ball.
“Just get a rebound,” were BYU coach Dave Rose’s thoughts as the Dons (17-11, 7-7 WCC) came close to pulling off a mild upset. “Our guys made them take tough shots.”
From Carlino’s perspective: “I was just biting my nails the whole time out there, but luckily they didn’t go in.”
Added Noah Hartsock: “It was just a scramble the whole way. ... We got some lucky breaks, with them missing.”
So the Cougars improved to 22-6 overall, 10-3 in the WCC, while leading for all but 20 seconds of the game.
Green’s jumper in the paint with 40 seconds left gave USF its first lead of the game, 84-83, but after a timeout Carlino penetrated and made a heavily defended shot for the game-winner.
“They said, ‘We got to take it to the hole’ during the timeout,” Carlino said. “I was ready to make a play at the end there, because they hadn’t really stopped me the whole game.”
Hartsock added 16 points and Charles Abouo chipped in 15 while bigs Brandon Davies and Nate Austin battled foul trouble most of the way and weren’t big factors. But this was Carlino’s night from the get-go.
The UCLA transfer had matched his career high of 22 points by halftime with a furious 3-point shooting display (4 of 6) in the first 20 minutes. He finished 13-for-19 from the field and had three assists and four rebounds.
The Dons shot 47 percent, and trailed 81-73 after Abouo’s big 3-pointer with 3:45 left. But Caloiaro scored five of his team-high 23 points in the last two minutes to set up Green’s short-lived, go-ahead basket.
“It was a great college game. I thought our guys battled. San Francisco played really well, and I thought we played really well,” Rose said. “It was just a good college basketball game.”
BYU 85, San Francisco 84
R IN SHORT • Matt Carlino’s game-winning basket with 21 seconds remaining gives Cougars a razor-close victory over San Francisco.
KEY MOMENT • San Francisco has two chances to win it in the final five seconds, but shots by Rashad Green and Anthony Caloiaro are off the mark.