Santa Clara, Calif. • Remember those notions that the 2012-13 iteration of the BYU basketball team had a couple of superstars — Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws — and little else? That the Cougars were OK in the Marriott Center, but hardly anything to write home about on the road?
Coach Dave Rose’s club debunked a lot of those theories on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,853 at the Leavey Center, streaking past supposedly improved Santa Clara 82-64 to stay unbeaten in West Coast Conference play.
Five players reached double figures in scoring — led by ol’ reliable Haws’ 24-point day on 10-for-14 shooting — and BYU blew a halftime lead, then put together a masterful 18-0 run to take away the Broncos’ upset hopes.
In posting arguably their best all-around game of the season, the Cougars improved to 4-0 in league, 14-4 overall, and pretty much squashed Santa Clara’s dream of contending for the league crown. The Broncos, who led Duke at Cameron Indoor at halftime in December, dropped to 1-3 and 12-6.
“I compare it to a couple games ago. You know, the [92-51 win over Loyola Marymount], to our best 40 minutes,” Rose said. “This was our most aggressive, our most efficient game.”
With senior Davies struggling to score and hold on to the ball against a big, beefy SCU lineup inside, Brock Zylstra (15 points), Matt Carlino (13) and Anson Winder (10) delivered, showing this is not really a two-man team, as some critics have suggested. Davies still finished with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting, but had seven of BYU’s 11 turnovers.
“I think that’s the most complete 40 minutes that our guys have put together,” Haws said. “It came at a big time. I feel like we have got it rolling right now and our confidence [is high]. I like where we’re at.”
It didn’t come as easily as the final score suggests, however. Broncos’ senior guard Kevin Foster, the league’s third-leading scorer, opened the second half with 13 points in less than seven minutes, and his free throw with 13:37 remaining knotted the game at 50-50, erasing BYU’s 41-32 halftime lead that quickly.
Zylstra and Haws answered with baskets, and after a timeout, Nate Austin scored on an in-bounds play, Winder hit some free throws, and the rout was on. Santa Clara went some seven minutes without scoring. By the time Marc Trasolini (17 points) ended the 18-0 BYU run, red-clad fans were hitting the exits and the usual strong contingent of BYU fans was in celebration mode.
“When you go on the road, you know you are going to punch them, and they are going to punch you back, no matter how many times you punch them,” Rose said. “And this [Santa Clara] team, they just kept responding and kept responding. ... They kept coming. That’s a really good team.”
The Cougars can be really good as well, though, when Carlino is controlling the game like he did Saturday. He was just 5 for 14 from the field, but made up for it by playing turnover-free and setting up his teammates for eight baskets.
“I mean, when you get that kind of play from your point guard, you are getting better and you are getting pretty efficient,” Rose said. “We needed him tonight. He played a lot of minutes . He will be tired, but they will all feel better, because it was a big win.”
R BYU blows a halftime lead, but puts together an 18-0 run in the second half to stay unbeaten in West Coast Conference play.