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BYU basketball: Cougars’ defense sparks rally, win over Loyola Marymount

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So much energy from our guys, especially in the second half. We had deflections, steals, offensive rebounds and hustle plays that led to baskets for us that got us going. – BYU coach Dave Rose

PROVO — Sure, Tyler Haws scored 30-plus points for the second straight game and Kyle Collinsworth had a career-high 20 points. Yeah, Matt Carlino came off the bench to contribute 18 points.

But if you want to know how BYU was able to turn a 10-point first-half deficit Saturday at the Marriott Center into a dominating 91-68 victory over Loyola Marymount before a crowd of 15,187, a lot of it had to do with the Cougars’ defense.

“So much energy from our guys, especially in the second half,” said coach Dave Rose. “We had deflections, steals, offensive rebounds and hustle plays that led to baskets for us that got us going.”

BYU forced 16 turnovers, including 10 steals. And Josh Sharp and Nate Austin filled the void inside left by freshman Eric Mika, who missed his second consecutive game with an injury.

“We’re putting an emphasis on that side of the floor and getting deflections and playing with energy,” said Haws, who finished with 31 points, two blocks and three steals. “Sometimes teams try to lull us to sleep, passing it around in our zone. But we stayed active. Matt got a bunch of deflections and lots of guys were really active tonight.”

With the win, BYU improved to 11-7 overall and 3-2 in the West Coast Conference. LMU dropped to 10-8 and 2-4.

The Cougars avenged an 87-76 loss to the Lions on Dec. 28 in Los Angeles.

While BYU shot 63 percent in the second half (17 of 27), they also held the Lions to 42 percent in the final 20 minutes. LMU hit 5 of 10 3-pointers in the first half, compared to only 1 of 6 in the second.

Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland scored 17 points and CJ Blackwell added 15, but guard Evan Payne, who torched the Cougars for 27 points two weeks ago, was held to just four points. Payne and Nick Stover combined to shoot 3 of 13 from the floor.

Carlino, who has been coming off the bench the past three games, entered the contest and promptly knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the first half. He ended up playing 31 minutes and finished with four assists and a pair of steals.

“Matt gave us a huge spark off the bench,” Haws said. “He got us sharing the ball and playing the right way. I’m proud of our effort tonight.”

“Tonight he was so much in control, playing within himself,” Rose said of Carlino. “That’s a good line for Matt. He came in and gave us a big lift.”

Mika, who is still dealing with a hip injury, dressed for the game and participated in warm-ups, but did not play.

“Eric wanted to play. He wasn’t ready to play,” Rose explained. “This was really good for him. He pushed himself pretty good in the shootaround. He pushed himself in the warm-ups. He still wasn’t in position to give us what we needed.”

“We’ve got to get him healthy,” Haws said of Mika. “He’s a huge part of our team. I expect him back next week.”

With Mika sitting on the bench, Austin and Sharp provided the Cougars a solid inside presence. Austin pulled down nine rebounds, while Sharp collected 10 points and four boards.

“Nate and Josh did a terrific job of battling and staying in there,” Rose said.

“He’s really active and plays so hard,” Haws said of Sharp. “He never takes a play off. He’s big on the boards, boxing out and getting rebounds. He’s done a great job the last few games.”

The Cougars fell behind early as the Lions knocked down five first-half 3-pointers. LMU led by as many as 10 in the first period, 30-20, but it was Carlino that kept BYU in the game.

During one stretch, Carlino scored nine consecutive Cougar points. Then Collinsworth, who also had nine rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals, drilled two free throws to tie the game, 33-33.

But BYU trailed at halftime, 38-37, as the Lions shot 53 percent compared to 40 percent for the Cougars. Carlino led all scorers at intermission with 12 points.

In the second half, a 10-0 run put BYU back in front, 47-42. The Lions didn’t go away, however, as they regained the lead, 57-56. With about 12 minutes remaining, the Cougars began to take control and wore LMU down, as Haws and Collinsworth scored points in bunches. BYU led by as many as 26 late in the game.

BYU visits San Francisco Thursday.