BYU basketball: Cougars roll past LMU 85-74, into WCC semis
BYU basketball • 6-6 guard has career-high 23, but team doesn’t make a 3-pointer for the first time since ’96.
Published: March 8, 2014 03:07PM
Updated: March 8, 2014 11:54PM
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BYU's Nate Austin dunks the ball against Loyola Marymount in the first half of a quarterfinal West Coast Conference NCAA college basketball tournament game on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Las Vegas • After Saturday afternoon’s West Coast Conference quarterfinal game, veteran Loyola Marymount coach Max Good stopped BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth and told the 6-foot-6 guard that he has a future in the NBA.

Anybody who watched BYU’s 85-74 win over the Lions in front of 7,688 at Orleans Arena would have a difficult time arguing otherwise.

In his best game in a BYU uniform, Collinsworth made 10 of 15 shots, scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to spark the second-seeded Cou gars to the win over an LMU team that had won two of its last three games.

“It wasn’t just today. Collinsworth is just a special player,” Good said.

BYU (22-10) advances to Monday night’s semifinal game against San Francisco, which rolled past San Diego in the first quarterfinal. The Dons and Cougars will tip off at an extra-late 9:30 p.m. MDT.

It provided a bookend, of sorts, on BYU’s season after the Cougars fell to these same Lions 87-76 in a WCC opener back in December. This time, the Cougars were aggressive early, played much better defense in holding LMU to 4-for-18 shooting from 3-point range, and got 19 points from their bench.

“They do a lot of things that cause us problems, but our guys were able to play through it,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I think we were consistently energized the whole game. We played with really good energy throughout the game.”

And Collinsworth was the catalyst.

He set the tone early with back-to-back follows and finished with six of the Cougars’ 19 offensive rebounds. BYU had 23 second-chance points, but still got out in transition a bit, scoring 10 points off fast breaks.

A lot of the credit for that goes to Anson Winder, who had a career-high six steals and 16 points.

“Anson Winder was really aggressive defensively,” Rose said. “That was a huge lift for us … getting us baskets in transition.”

Rose said the insertion of Winder into the starting lineup — a change he made four games ago after Winder’s second-half defense sparked the 60-57 win at Saint Mary’s — has wrought a change in his team’s attitude defensively.

“And is playing his best basketball for us right now,” Rose said.

The Cougars took a step closer to a hoped-for NCAA Tournament at-large berth despite making a single 3-pointer. It was the first time since Nov. 22, 1996 - a span of 577 games, that the Cougars have not made a shot from beyond the arc, going 0 for 12.

Rose, Collinsworth and Tyler Haws laughed off that stat from the podium after the game.

“We rebounded the ball really well, and got second-chance points,” said Haws, who was 0 for 5 from 3-point land, 9 of 22 from the field, for 22 points. “I think that helped make up for not making any threes.”

The Cougars improved their WCC tournament record to 2-2 with the win, and started looking forward to playing the Dons after USF coach Rex Walters said in his postgame remarks that his is the best team in the tournament.

“He’s certainly got the hottest team,” Rose said.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay

Storylines • BYU advances in WCC

R Kyle Collinsworth scores a career-high 23 points and grabs a career-high 16 rebounds to power the Cougars past LMU in a WCC quarterfinal game

• For the first time since Nov. 22, 1996, a stretch of 577 games, BYU fails to make a 3-pointer in a game

• BYU’s bench outscores LMU’s bench 19-3 as the Cougars improve to 22-10