Santa Clara, Calif. • About midway through the second half of BYU's eventual 82-67 win over Santa Clara on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,700 at the Leavey Center, the thousands of BYU fans in attendance let out a collective gasp.
Leading scorer Noah Hartsock was crumpled under the Santa Clara basket, grasping at his knee. It was so alarming that coach Dave Rose strolled over to take a look, and Hartsock remained down for several minutes.
Hartsock, who still led the Cougars with 21 points and chipped in five rebounds and three assists, eventually got up and was helped to the locker room. He even returned to the game and made two more baskets, but said afterward that his knee was really sore.
"It felt like it took a while [to know it wasn't really serious], because my knee was still bent," he said. "I was afraid to stretch it out. I felt like there might be something terribly wrong there, but fortunately it wasn't anything too big."
But Rose said Hartsock "isn't out of the woods yet" and noted that a lot will depend on how much the knee swells in the next few days.
Not having a healthy Hartsock, who averages 17.2 points per game, would be devastating for the Cougars in their showdown at Gonzaga on Thursday.
"When I went out there and saw him, he was pretty scared, and the way he came down funny [was scary]," Rose said. "â¦ We will see how it is tomorrow. History will tell you that it will probably be pretty sore tomorrow."
Starting point guard Matt Carlino is also having some knee issues. He slightly sprained his right knee against USF, and played with a knee brace in the first half, removed it to start the second half, then put it back on a few minutes later.
"Hopefully, Matt's is just a strain," Rose said. "It was really sore [Friday]. Kind of felt a little bit better today. â¦ But I was really proud of the gutty effort from him."
With Carlino ailing and in foul trouble, Craig Cusick played 19 minutes and had five assists, while taking just one shot.