BYU basketball: Cougars to face Portland or LMU in WCC quarterfinals Saturday
By Jay Drew
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 02 2014 05:01PM
Provo • A huge ice pack taped to his throbbing right knee, Kyle Collinsworth walked gingerly out of BYU’s locker room Saturday afternoon to talk about the Cougars’ 78-70 win over San Diego and the impact his shot clock-beating 3-pointer had in the victory that clinched the second seed in upcoming West Coast Conference tournament.
"It is all right, but it has been better," Collinsworth said of his sore knee, bruised two weeks ago in the 60-57 win at Saint Mary’s. "It has improved. It is not fully 100 percent, but it is getting there."
It could be worse. The Cougars, who finished in a tie with San Francisco for second place in the league but got the higher seed because they swept the Dons, won’t play again until Saturday.
"Yeah, [the long layoff] is really good for me, for my body," Collinsworth said.
Because the Cougars had a bye last week, the game at San Diego will be the only one they play in a 13-day stretch.
The Cougars (21-10) will face the winner of Thursday’s Portland-Loyola Marymount game in a quarterfinal game at 3 p.m. MST at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The Pilots tied for sixth in the WCC race but got the seventh seed because they were swept by San Diego. After beating BYU in the conference opener, LMU nose-dived due to a rash of injuries and inconsistent play, and finished in last place for the second straight year.
BYU guard Tyler Haws, who scored a game-high 25 points against the Toreros, said there are pros and cons to playing just once in 13 days.
"It definitely helps our bodies, helps us to stay healthy and keep our energy up. But you want to be playing games. Still, I like where we are at. … I feel like our chemistry is really good, and we are just figuring out ways to win."
Saturday’s game was a physical, grinding test of wills that coach Dave Rose said took a lot out of both teams because the travel partners know each other so well.
San Diego coach Bill Grier told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he used a "hockey analogy of dropping the sticks and gloves and going at them" before the game to prepare for "the most physical team in the conference" and BYU’s "older guys."
In that regard, Rose said the bye helped the Cougars.
"I think we managed the week pretty well, had a lot of energy late in the game here, which was good," Rose said.