PROVO — BYU coach Dave Rose recorded his 10th-consecutive season of at least 20 victories after the Cougars won their third-straight game Saturday. Following some lineup shuffles to cover for injuries, Rose believes his team has progressed with more consistent play.
This past week the Cougars defeated St Mary’s and Pacific to run their record to 20-8 and 10-5 in the West Coast Conference. BYU faces San Diego Thursday night in the Cougars' regular-season home finale.
After outscoring Pacific 35-10 in the final 12 minutes Saturday, Rose credited the Cougars for finding rhythm and chemistry by sharing the ball and playing better defense. The Cougars were without senior guard Anson Winder due to injury.
"That was a good team win for our guys,” said Rose. “I think we had quite a few players that really stepped up and really played well. We shared the ball well. In the last 15 minutes of the second half we just played really inspired. We got a great lift from Skyler (Halford) off the bench. I thought that Josh (Sharp) and the minutes that he played, he gave us some great minutes.”
BYU got nine blocked shots, including three from reserve Frank Bartley and two from Sharp, in the win over the Tigers.
After an emotional win over St. Mary’s two nights before, the Cougars struggled to play efficiently against the physical Tigers for most of the game Saturday night. After Pacific scored three quick baskets to begin the first half, Rose had seen enough and called a timeout.
“They made three baskets within 6 inches of the rim,” said Rose. “That's what they do. If you’re just kind of there and don't really work hard, they score. We were just kind of lethargic. I give credit to Tyler (Haws), Chase (Fisher) and Kyle (Collinsworth), those three captains. They had a nice look in their eye that inspired the rest of them.”
Collinsworth had 12 points and 12 rebounds and his nine assists were one short of his sixth triple-double. Haws led all scorers with 20 points. It was his 20th game scoring at least 20 this season.
Fischer hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points.
“We were in the zone for quite awhile, trying to deal with their size," said Rose. "Then when we went man-to-man, we had good rotations. I think Corbin (Kaufusi) did a good job of rotating and protecting the rim.”
Collinsworth said the Cougars got down to making stops, took care of the ball, and had focus in the breakout against Pacific. He said coming off the St. Mary’s game, emotion was a challenge.
“It's a little hard physically and also mentally,” said Collinsworth. “Obviously, St. Mary's is a better team than Pacific. It's hard in this conference to get your mind going and your body going into the second game of the week. Yeah, it's a little tough, but we responded and ended the game on a good note. We hope to carry that on to next week.”
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center on Thursday to face off against San Diego at 8 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.