A midrange jumper cured all ills. One of the most fundamental shots was knocked down by one of the most consistent players to ever don a BYU uniform and help the Cougars advance. Tyler Haws used an on-ball screen to get to the lane where he calmly pulled up and hit the game winner with 2.5 seconds remaining to give BYU a 78-76 victory over Santa Clara in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.
Haws and Kyle Collinsworth carried the load offensively for the Cougars. Haws had a game-high 30 points on 9-or-19 shooting from the floor and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line with nine rebounds and two assists, while Collinsworth finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Corbin Kaufusi and Skyler Halford also made some big contributions in the win. Kaufusi had seven points on the strength of a 5-for-6 shooting night from the line to go along with seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals and a nifty assist that set up a Collinsworth dunk while Halford chipped in with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting from the floor.
Jared Brownridge almost single-handedly carried the load for the Broncos in the first half with 19 of his 29 points before intermission. He got plenty of help in the second half thanks to the pay of Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson Clark finished with 23 points, five assists and four rebounds, while Johnson added 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.
Why the Cougars won
The Cougars won this game for one reason: They attacked the basket. On a night where they struggled to shoot the ball from the outside, BYU got to the free-throw line 38 times and converted on 29 of them in the two-point win. Six players got to the line, including five that attempted at least four shots. Along with impressive percentages put up by Haws and Kaufusi, Frank Bartley IV went 4-for-4, Anson Winder went 4-for-6 and Collinsworth went 5-for-8.
What it means
The Cougars get another chance to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee with a semifinal matchup against the Portland Pilots. According to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, BYU is squarely on the bubble and needs all the chances they can get to show that they belong in the field of 68. A loss to the Broncos would have most likely ended those hopes.
Grading the performances
BYU The Cougars had no answers for the back court of Brownridge and Clark. They made costly errors to allow the Broncos tt tie the game late in the second half, but in the end, none of that mattered as they came away with the win. B
Santa Clara Conference tournament games aren't pretty as teams get one final life to extend the season. They do whatever they can to play another day and the Broncos nearly did that. They scrapped and fought and clawed and got back to even before having their hearts broken by the Haws jumper.
They did a solid job on the defensive end of the floor as they held BYU to 44 percent shooting from the field, including 33.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. B+
Three telling stats
After hitting on 5-of-6 3-point attempts in the first half, Brownridge made just one of his final five attempts from distance.
The Cougars won the battle of the boards 36-32. They are still undefeated this season when they outrebound their opponent.
BYU had 23 more attempts and 17 more makes than the Broncos from the free-throw line.
The Portland Pilots get a third crack at the Cougars on Monday night. The Pilots enter the game with a 17-14 record, including 7-11 in West Coast Conference play. They got this far thanks to a 69-52 upset win over Saint Mary's. BYU won the first meeting 97-88 and the rematch 82-69.
Kevin Bailey and Alex Wintering lead the charge on the perimeter. Bailey is averaging 14.5 points on 41.8 percent shooting from the floor, including 37 percent from distance with 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists while Wintering manages 12.6 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 5.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
Thomas van de Mars is another player to look out for. He is third on the team in scoring with 10.3 points as well as eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @jmoneysports