PROVO — Well, it wasn’t pretty. And it certainly wasn’t easy.
But BYU coach Dave Rose earned his 300th career victory the hard way as the Cougars rallied to beat Portland 73-62 Saturday night before a crowd of 13,775 at the Marriott Center.
To get this milestone win, two nights after an emotional loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, BYU had to stage a comeback over the final five minutes and closed out the game on an 18-1 run.
Afterwards, Rose was honored for his accomplishment as athletic director Tom Holmoe presented him with the game ball at midcourt. Rose tied college basketball coaching legends Bobby Knight and John Thompson for the 25th-fastest to 300 wins (407 games).
In his 12th season at the helm, Rose has posted a 300-107 record. Rose is the second-winningest coach in school history, trailing only Stan Watts, who won 371 games in 23 seasons from 1949-1972.
What does this accomplishment mean to Rose?
“Right now, it means that we can move on to what’s next,” he said. “You kind of get approaching something like this and it seems like for two or three weeks, people have been talking to me about it. It’s not real comfortable for me. I’m glad that we have it and now we can work on the next challenge. I feel really grateful — gratitude to the unbelievable players we’ve had over years that have been committed to winning.”
Rose also thanked his assistant coaches and the BYU administration.
“All that combined has allowed me to be around and win a few games,” he added. “I’m grateful for that.”
Still, there were moments Saturday when it looked like the 300th win might not happen on this night — against a Portland team that is missing its top player, injured guard Alec Wintering, and entered the game mired in a nine-game losing streak.
The Cougars started slow, fell behind by as many as 10 in the first half, and trailed for much of the game. That might have had something to do with being emotionally spent after the Gonzaga game.
“There was so much emotion from Thursday night, you kind of wonder where they’re going to get everything they need to win this game,” Rose said. “I mean, nothing against Portland, they played really well — but we had a lot of opportunities that we let go. We had balls knocked away from us, we missed rebounds, we missed assignments. We were still able to find a way to win the game.”
BYU found itself down 61-55 with 4:35 remaining when reserve guard Davin Guinn buried a big 3-pointer and made a pair of key steals down the stretch, fueling the strong finish. The Cougars hit 13 of 16 free throws over the last four minutes.
“(Guinn) gave us tremendous minutes and kind of brought energy to us,” Rose said. “(The 3-pointer) got the crowd back involved and gave us an emotional lift at a time when things were looking pretty tough.”
Two Cougars finished with double-doubles — Eric Mika scored 23 points and had 12 rebounds while Yoeli Childs scored 10 points and collected 15 rebounds. They each blocked three shots.
The Pilots, led by Gabe Taylor's 20 points, shot only 33 percent from the field but they gave the Cougars all they could handle.
“That’s the thing about this league,” Childs said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first team or the last team, everybody plays hard, and if you don’t give it your all, anybody can beat you.”
TJ Haws scored 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and L.J. Rose chipped in 10 points to go along with five assists.
With the win, BYU improved to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in West Coast Conference play. Portland fell to 9-15 and 2-10.
BYU’s players were glad to help Rose notch his 300th career victory.
“It’s awesome for him. The season is, what, 30-something games? Three hundred wins is hard to do,” Childs said. “I don’t know how many coaches out there have done that, but he’s in a select few. He’s a great coach and we have a great staff. I’m just happy for him. It’s pretty cool.”
BYU visits Pepperdine Thursday (9 p.m. MST, ESPNU).