Provo • Craig Cusick had gone 0 for 6 from the field. A few minutes earlier, he badly missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner that might have sealed it. Later, he would say he was playing one of the worst games of his basketball career.
But with the game on the line Tuesday night at the Marriott Center, BYU’s senior walk-on — who found out just before the game that his father, Randy, has cancer — delivered the most memorable basket of his life, rescuing the Cougars from another second-half meltdown.
O IN SHORT » Craig Cusick’s only basket of the game, a floater with less than a second left, gives the Cougars a 70-68 win over the Aggies.
KEY MOMENT » Tyler Haws’ offensive rebound with around 31 seconds left gives the Cougars a second chance to win.
KEY STAT » Fifty-one fouls are called, and the teams combine to take 60 free throws.
BYU 70, Utah State 68
UTAH ST. (18-7) » Davis 2-6 1-2 5, Clifford 2-3 0-0 4, Shaw 6-11 1-4 13, Jean 4-11 1-2 11, Butterfield 6-16 7-8 21, Lopez 0-0 0-0 0, Roland 1-2 2-2 5, Stone 2-3 5-9 9. Totals 23-52 17-27 68.
BYU (20-8) » Davies 2-5 6-6 10, Cusick 1-7 2-2 4, Haws 7-19 12-14 27, Carlino 3-12 2-2 9, Zylstra 4-6 0-1 10, Delgado 0-0 0-0 0, Ambrosino 0-0 0-0 0, Sharp 0-1 2-2 2, Winder 0-0 4-6 4, Calvert 1-3 0-0 2, Austin 0-0 0-0 0, Kaufusi 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-54 28-33 70.
Halftime—BYU 41-32. 3-Point Goals—Utah St. 5-21 (Jean 2-8, Butterfield 2-8, Roland 1-2, Davis 0-3), BYU 4-21 (Zylstra 2-4, Haws 1-5, Carlino 1-7, Calvert 0-1, Cusick 0-4). Fouled Out—Shaw. Rebounds—Utah St. 39 (Butterfield 14), BYU 33 (Cusick 5). Assists—Utah St. 14 (Butterfield 5), BYU 10 (Carlino 5). Total Fouls—Utah St. 24, BYU 27. A—16,569.
Cusick caught the ball in the air when Matt Carlino’s 3-point try bounced long off the front of the rim, and flipped it through the hoop with less than a second remaining to give BYU a 70-68 win over hard-charging USU in front of 16,569 at the Marriott Center.
"As a player, you couldn’t dream it any better," Cusick said.
After a review, referees put 0.2 seconds back on the clock, and USU’s Marvin Jean got a hand on Spencer Butterfield’s full-court pass, but couldn’t guide it into the hoop, and the Cougars (20-8) had their fourth win over the Aggies (18-7) in the last six matchups between the longtime rivals.
"I saw that when Matt shot it that there was a chance that it was going to be a little short," Cusick said. "I ran where I thought it was going to come off, and I was fortunate. … I made one shot the whole game, or something like that."
With the herky-jerky, foul-filled game tied at 68-68 after two Butterfield free throws with 57 seconds left, BYU’s Brandon Davies missed a baseline jumper, but Tyler Haws snuck in for the offensive rebound and the Cougars called timeout with 31 seconds left.
"One of the biggest plays of the game," said BYU coach Dave Rose.
They took the clock down to about five seconds before Carlino started a drive toward the basket. Rose said the plan was to have the point guard penetrate and kick the ball to an open shooter, but Carlino pulled up himself.
"We got a clean look," Rose said. "It didn’t go in, but with the time difference, we could send all five guys to the glass. … That was a huge basket for Craig. This was a big win for our team."
And a tough loss to swallow for the Aggies, 12-point underdogs and playing with just eight scholarship players. USU coach Stew Morrill said the Aggies lost because they had 18 turnovers (BYU had 14 steals) and missed 10 free throws.
"That’s why we got beat," Morrill said. "Our guys fought really hard in the second half [overcoming an 11-point deficit]. Give BYU credit though. They made a heckuva play at the end of the game."
The Cougars were 28 for 33 from the free-throw line, although they where whistled for 27 fouls to USU’s 24. Haws led all scorers with 27 points and was 12 for 14 from the line.
Davies was 6 for 6 from the line, including four with less than three minutes left that helped BYU hold off the final Butterfield-led charge from the Aggies.
"We needed all of them," Rose said.
Butterfield had 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead Utah State, while Jarred Shaw added 13 points and eight boards before fouling out with 1:49 remaining. The Aggies won the rebounding battle, 39-33.
With 10 points apiece, Davies and Brock Zylstra were the only other Cougars in double figures.
"We just couldn’t put them away," Haws said. "You gotta give them a lot of credit. They hit some really big shots, from really big threes."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.