BYU basketball: Cougars hold on for win
Las Vegas • The Cougars got all they wanted from the so-so San Diego Toreros on Friday night in a West Coast Conference quarterfinal game.
BYU scratched out a 73-68 win, but it wasn't nearly as easy as its first two wins over the WCC's sixth-seeded team.
The Cougars improved to 25-7, while San Diego fell to 17-13.
Noah Hartsock led BYU with 19 points and Brandon Davies added 16, but missed some big free throws in the final minutes.
BYU moves on to play No. 2 seed Gonzaga in a 9:30 p.m. MST semifinal on Saturday night at Orleans Arena. The Zags and Cougars split their season series, each team winning on its own floor.
The Cougars were 14-point favorites in the game and had defeated San Diego twice in the regular season by a combined 55 points, but found themselves in a scrape in this supposed neutral court battle.
The crowd of 5,037 was mostly comprised of BYU fans, but fans of Gonzaga and other teams began pulling for San Diego as the game wore on and the Toreros kept it close.
San Diego took its first lead of the game on the opening possession of the second half, a Dennis Kramer layup. The Cougars quickly regained the advantage, however, and led by seven mutliple times, and nine once, in the second half.
After he scored a career-high 30 points in Thursday's win over Pepperdine, San Diego's Johnny Dee was throttled in the first half by the Cougars, but heated up in the second to keep the Toreros in it. He had nine points.
Both teams shot 50 percent in the first half, but USD won the rebounding battle 16-13. The Toreros were the worst rebounding team in the WCC in the regular season, the Cougars the best.
The Cougars looked sharp early, jumping to an 11-4 lead. But the Toreros scrapped back into it, and tied it at 24-24 when Chris Anderson went coast-to-coast after a steal.
The Cougars then went on a 7-0 run to regain control. However, USD closed the half on a 5-0 run to knot the score at 34-34 at the break.
Hartsock didn't start for BYU, but was put into the game with 15:02 remaining in the first half and promptly hit a short jumper. He also blocked two shots.
Davies appeared to have cleanly blocked a dunk attempt early in the game, but was whistled for a foul. He picked up his second foul with 12:12 remaining and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
In the second half, after picking up his third foul, Davies made the first 3-pointer of his career.
Brock Zylstra started quickly for the Cougars, getting the start at the four-spot instead of Hartsock, and had seven points in the first three minutes. He had 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
Stephen Rogers also played in the first half for BYU, after having missed the Portland game last week with a knee injury, but did not score.
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