PROVO — The little hustle things really added up.
Intensity on the boards, passion off the bench and a far better defense than usual propelled BYU to an 82-60 blowout win over Saint Mary’s Thursday night in the Marriott Center.
BYU had to hustle, scrambling for loose balls, rebounds and steals. The Cougar had 19 assists to SMC’s 7. It was evident with star scorer Tyler Haws (15 points) sitting out 14 minutes of the first half in foul trouble and starting guard Anson Winder in street clothes, which left Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett disappointed his team did not match the intensity.
“They played well, we didn’t,” said Bennett, whose team is in second place behind Gonzaga in the league standings.
“It’s what you’d expect with them at home. Yeah, I could break it down area by area, but the bottom line is we didn’t have enough players play well and they had guys play pretty well.
“You have to have players bring their “A” games and we had some guys bring F games,” said the Gael coach.
Seldom-used senior Josh Sharp scored eight points but got five of his six rebounds on the offensive end, Skyler Halford had 7-of-12 shots to add 17 points and freshman Ryan Andrus and sophomore Frank Bartley IV made key plays to lift the Cougars.
At times, Sharp played above the rim, slamming home an errant shot by a teammate.
“It felt really good. I’ve kind of been waiting my time. Overall tonight, everybody stepped up on the team and that’s why we were able to do that to a very good team,” said Sharp.
Said BYU head coach Dave Rose: “Josh has given us a lift the last two games." His team climbed to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the WCC. Saint Mary’s left Provo 18-5, 10-2.
Andrus came in and immediately got two rebounds, a steal and ended up with a block. And he was BYU’s third center in the game.
The Cougars watched Gael center Brad Waldow score 24 points with 14 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting in Moraga back on Jan. 17. The WCC’s leading rebounder abused BYU on his home court. Teammate Garrett Jackson added 20 and 9.
Not this time.
BYU threw Corbin Kaufusi, Luke Worthington and freshman Andrus at Waldow in the rematch and left them alone much of the night to defend the 260-pound center as others tried to stop Jackson and others.
Waldow, frustrated at times, ended up with 17 points and just five rebounds on 6-of-12 field goals.
“Our focus was to not let anyone else go off on us,” said Sharp.
Bennett said BYU didn’t help much on Waldow and went after his shooters. “Brad didn’t play well.”
What did he tell his players after the game? “Take some pride in what you do.” He said the Gael take-away from the visit to Provo was he hopes his team “competes better.”
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.