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BYU basketball: Cougars bounce back strong, cruise past Pilots

SHARE BYU basketball: Cougars bounce back strong, cruise past Pilots

PORTLAND, Ore. — BYU's Big Three enjoyed a productive Saturday night before a crowd of 3,078 at the Chiles Center.

Matt Carlino scored a season-high 24 points, Brandon Davies recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Tyler Haws chipped in 19 points as the Cougars pounded Portland, 85-67.

Combined, Carlino, Davies and Haws scored 63 of BYU's 85 points.

With the win, the Cougars bounced back from a humbling loss at No. 10 Gonzaga last Thursday.

BYU improved to 16-6 overall and 6-2 in the West Coast Conference. The Pilots dropped to 8-14 and 1-6.

But the game's most memorable moment came with 14 minutes remaining.

BYU was rolling along by 17 points when several players, including Cougar guard Brock Zylstra and Pilot guard Tanner Riley, were scrambling for a loose ball.

As officials were trying to bring order to the situation, Riley put his arm around Zylstra's neck and threw him to the ground.

"It's just unfortunate when that kind of stuff happens," said BYU coach Dave Rose.

Riley was whistled for a class A foul and ejected from the game. As he left the floor, Riley waved his arms to the crowd.

"That kid came after Brock. It was a pretty dirty play, in my opinion," Carlino said. "The refs took care of it, so it ended up well … Obviously, you want to have your teammates' back. But it's hard to keep your head in that moment. The refs took good care of it."

"I thought the coaches did a good job (of de-escalating the situation)," Rose said. "The last thing you want to do is for that to turn into something bigger than it was."

The tussle seemed to disrupt the Cougar offense for a while, as BYU went six minutes without a field goal after that. Guard Craig Cusick ended that drought when he drained a 3-pointer with 8:20 left.

"I don't think it affected us. It made us more angry, but other than that," Carlino said. "I mean, it's not a boxing match, it's basketball."

"It got me a little fired up. There are a lot of different views on it," Davies said of the incident. "I was just trying to get Brock out of there as soon as possible. It looked like he needed some help, and when you see one of your teammates in trouble, you try to help him … In an intense, conference game there's a lot on the line … It's probably a good thing I stayed out of it."

BYU led by 10 at halftime, 39-29, then opened the second half strong as Carlino buried a pair of 3-pointers, then had a nice pass to Haws for a layup, lifting the Cougars to a 49-31 advantage.

On the night, Carlino recorded six assists and four steals.

"I thought Matt really controlled the game," Rose said. "When they tried to press us, he was able to break that thing and push it up. At the start of the second half he hit two big 3's and that gave us some more space. It was really important for us to come out in the second half and increase that lead."

BYU led by as many as 21, 63-42, with 10 minutes left.

There were still some anxious moments for the Cougars late in the game.

With 5:47 left, Davies injured his right ankle — the same one he hurt a month ago against Virginia Tech — with 5:47 left, went to the locker room, but returned to the game with four minutes remaining. And seconds later, Davies ran the floor and scored a layup. He remained on the floor for the rest of the game.

"I played a lot better (Saturday)," Davies said. "Unfortunately, I had a little (ankle) tweak again … It's not too bad, but it's still a little weak, so it doesn't take much to re-aggravate it."

Carlino credited Davies for being a force inside.

"He played really well," Carlino said. "When he can get that many rebounds, it's great for us. We didn't rebound well in the first half, but we did a lot better in the second half."

BYU visits Pepperdine next Thursday.

email: jeffc@desnews.com