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Coming off big win, BYU basketball hosts Pacific

BYU's Kyle Collinsworth shoots over Saint Mary's Brad Waldow early in the second half. BYU defeated Saint Mary's 82-60 in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on Thursday February 12, 2015.
BYU's Kyle Collinsworth shoots over Saint Mary's Brad Waldow early in the second half. BYU defeated Saint Mary's 82-60 in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on Thursday February 12, 2015.
Jaren Wilkey/BYU, Jaren Wilkey/BYU

PROVO — One play early in the second half of BYU’s 82-60 win over Saint Mary’s Thursday night encapsulated the Cougars’ performance against the Gaels.

It started on the defensive end with a block by Corbin Kaufusi. The ball was picked up by Chase Fischer, who passed to Kyle Collinsworth, who dished the ball to Tyler Haws for a layup that put BYU ahead 51-31.

“That was really pretty,” coach Dave Rose said of that sequence. The Cougars led by as many as 31 points in the second half against Saint Mary's, which is in second place in the West Coast Conference standings.

Rose is hoping to see his team play more like this in the final couple of weeks of the regular season.

“I think we found a little part of ourselves that can help us down the stretch,” he said.

With the win, coupled with Pepperdine’s loss at Portland, BYU grabbed sole possession of third place in the WCC.

The Cougars (19-8, 9-5), looking for their 20th victory of the season, host last-place Pacific Saturday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv).

While BYU has won four of its last five games, the Tigers have lost six consecutive contests.

A week earlier at Pepperdine, BYU blew a double-digit second-half lead. Against Saint Mary’s, the Cougars enjoyed a complete game.

“The issue with our team is consistency,” Rose said. “Last Thursday we played a good half, then collapsed defensively in the second half at Pepperdine (by) putting two halves together and finding a rotation where everyone contributed.”

Fischer, who scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers against Saint Mary’s, said the Cougars need to build on their momentum.

“We all realize that we’re still a hungry group,” he said. “We’ve had our ups and downs this season. We’re going to really try to keep that edge.”

BYU enjoyed contributions from multiple players, including Skyler Halford (17 points, five assists), Frank Bartley IV (nine points, three rebounds, three assists) and Ryan Andrus (one rebound, two points, one block and two steals) off the bench.

Josh Sharp, who has started two games in a row, played a key role with eight points, six rebounds and five assists. Kaufusi recorded four blocked shots to go with five boards.

“The guy’s an animal,” Sharp said of Kaufusi. “We know if we force players as they’re driving where we want them to go, we have him back there to block shots. It seemed like there was a stretch in the second half where he was blocking everything. That helps our whole team out.”

Guard Anson Winder was sidelined for the Saint Mary’s game due to a groin injury.

“Hopefully we can get (Winder) healthy,” Rose said.

Haws, who scored 15 points Thursday, needs 55 points to surpass Jimmer Fredette.