San Diego • A month or two ago, this was a game the BYU Cougars probably would have lost, coach Dave Rose said.
But this time, the Cougars made all the big shots, got all the big rebounds and made all the big stops down the stretch to keep their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes alive and clinch the No. 2 seed for the West Coast Conference Tournament next week.
StorylinesTyler Haws scores a game-high 25 points and the Cougars clinch the No. 2 seed for the West Coast Conference tournament.
» San Diego overcomes BYU’s 16-point lead in the first half and takes a 3-point lead midway through the second half, but the Cougars score seven straight to right the ship.
Tyler Haws scored 25 points and Kyle Collinsworth made up for a foul-plagued and subpar performance with a huge 3-pointer to beat the shot clock during crunch time as the Cougars held off San Diego 78-70 in front of 3,889 at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
"It wasn’t a pretty win, but a win is a win nevertheless, at the end of the day," Collinsworth said.
The Toreros (7-11 WCC, 16-15) made the Cougars (13-5, 21-10) earn it after falling behind by 16 points in the first half and looking disinterested on a chilly, rainy day in Southern California. They rallied from that big deficit and an eight-point halftime disadvantage and had two leads in the second half — 50-47 after Brett Bailey’s 3-pointer midway through the half, and 56-54 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Chris Anderson.
BYU bottled up Johnny Dee, who was 4 of 12 for 12 points, but Anderson got free, or was left free, time and again and torched the Cougars with six 3-pointers and a season-high 22 points.
"We know he is capable of doing that," Haws said. "He has a game like that every once in awhile. It seems like lots of guys have their big game like that against us."
The Cougars had an answer each time they fell behind, then got what turned out to be the dagger from Collinsworth, who had only taken 19 treys before Saturday, making seven.
"These guys deserved to win," Rose said of his team that has now won four straight and eight of its last nine after getting swept on the Portland-Gonzaga road swing. "They left it all out there. … They have learned a lot throughout the year. I don’t know if we could have won this game four or five weeks ago."
Freshman Eric Mika played just 18 minutes after getting into foul trouble in the first half, but hit two free throws after a timeout to give BYU a lead, 60-58, with 6:48 remaining that it would not relinquish.
Then Collinsworth made the play of the game after Anderson’s fifth 3-pointer got the Toreros within two with two minutes left. Matt Carlino (14 points, six assists) found Collinsworth as the shot clock was about to expire with 1:28 remaining.
"It was huge for us, because it was a sloppy game," Collinsworth said. "A lot of things were different, a lot of people in foul trouble. It was just tough getting into a rhythm for us. But for us to be able to make big plays down the stretch was huge."
Haws was Haws, going 11 for 20 from the field in 39 minutes, while Anson Winder scored 11 points, all in the first half, and kept Dee in check. Nate Austin had 10 rebounds and nine points, his highest scoring output since Dec. 3 vs. North Texas (10) and was 5 for 5 from the free-throw line.
Austin made two putbacks, one while being fouled, in the last 10 minutes.
"I just believe the way you win is players make plays," Rose said. "And that [Collinsworth shot] was a huge play. I got all the confidence in the world in those guys out there. We got a big play from Kyle, we got a couple big plays from Nate, a big play from Luke [Worthington] where he stole the ball on a post entry late in the game."
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