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Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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BYU beats USF for third time, but Walters doesn't back down from "best team" boast

It is well past midnight here in Las Vegas, so just a quick blog post on the Cougars’ 79-77 win over San Francisco in overtime.

The Cougars won it at the free-throw line, really, going 24 of 28 from the stripe. Tyler Haws overcame a horrible shooting night from the field (5 of 19) by going 14 of 14 from the line. He finished with 24 points.

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Kyle Collinsworth added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and made two huge free throws in overtime. Not bad for a 65-percent FT shooter.

"My first thought was just my teammates. I knew I had to make them. I knew I was going to make them, because we had been battling so hard. So I just thought of my teammates, and came up there with confidence and I made both of them," Collinsworth said.

Matt Carlino was short on his jumper all night, but made a 15-footer (approx.) with 36 seconds remaining in OT. Carlino finished with 11, while Eric Mika also had 11 while making his first start in five games.

Anson Winder, playing in his hometown, scored in double figures for the fifth straight game, finishing with 15.

"I think it is within all of us that we want to compete, we want to win, and we knew we had to pick it up, and I think we did that tonight," Winder said.

The Cougars move on to face Gonzaga in the WCC championship game on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. MDT, 6 p.m. here in Las Vegas.

"It hasn’t really sunk in yet," Winder said. "I am sure it will. We haven’t been to the finals yet, especially in this league, and we know we are not done yet.

I have said from the beginning that our backs are against the wall and we have to win to keep playing, so it is another game that we have to gut it up."

BYU is now 3-0 against USF this season, and Gonzaga is 2-0 against the Dons.

But USF coach Rex Walters didn’t back away from his pre-game boast that the Dons were the best team in the tournament when I gave him a chance to in the post-game interview room.

He referred to something Alonzo Mourning said when the two were teammates in the NBA, then said:

"I would say I [still] think we are the best team in this tournament. The best team may not have won tonight. Hat’s off to Gonzaga [he meant BYU].

There may be a lot of Mormons mad at me, but I don’t give a rat’s you-know-what what the state of Utah thinks of me.

They won the game tonight. They deserved it. They played better tonight. But like I told my guys, I wouldn’t trade one of my guys for any player in this tournament. Not one," Walters said.

After extolling the virtues of his team, which dropped to 21-11, Walters got back on the "we’re the best" platform.

"I would love to get another chance at BYU. I would love to get another chance at Gonzaga, but that won’t be the case. Dave [Rose] should be very proud of his team tonight. I am not trying to take away anything from them. But I love my team and I will go to war every day with my team, and twice on Sunday."

What did the Cougars think of Walters’ boast? I asked Collinsworth if it provided any motivation tonight.

"Not really," he said. "We just worry about us and what we do. We don’t have time for that. We just worry about us. I mean, they are a good team. They were playing really well. We just wanted to focus on us, and how we play."

All for now. More tomorrow.



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