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BYU shrugs off slow start to earn victory over San Diego on Senior Night

PROVO — Tyler Haws needed to score 35 points on Senior Night at the Marriott Center to surpass Jimmer Fredette’s all-time scoring record at BYU.

But early on Thursday, it looked like the Cougars — as a team — would not score 35 against San Diego.

It took BYU, the nation’s highest-scoring team, nearly seven minutes to score its first points.

That’s right, seven minutes.

“We couldn’t buy a bucket for a while,” Haws said. “I don’t know if we were still thinking about Senior Night or what, but we finally got it going.”

Yes, the Cougars finished strong, as Haws scored a game-high 28 points and BYU defeated the Toreros 75-62 before a crowd of 17,092.

Haws, one of four seniors honored before the game, now needs seven points to become the school’s career scoring leader. Haws has 2,593 points, while Fredette finished with 2,599. Haws hit 8-of-17 shots from the floor and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line.

The Cougars struggled to score to start the first half, but they had no such trouble to open the second half. BYU outscored San Diego 11-2 in the opening minutes of the second half and after hitting three consecutive 3-pointers, including a pair by Haws, the Cougars grabbed a 44-30 lead and cruised from there.

BYU led by as many as 17 in the second half.

With the win, BYU improved to 21-8 overall and 11-5 in the West Coast Conference while San Diego dropped to 14-14 and 7-9. The Cougars avenged a 77-74 setback at San Diego last month.

Senior Anson Winder made up for lost time Thursday on Senior Night, scoring 15 points.

Having sat out the previous two game due to a groin injury, Winder came off the bench and actually scored the Cougars’ first points at the 13:06 mark.

“He gave us a huge spark in the first half,” said coach Dave Rose.

“We fed off his energy,” Haws said of Winder.

Winder started the second half in place of fellow senior Josh Sharp and helped jump-start the second-half surge by scoring the Cougars’ first five points after halftime.

Kyle Collinsworth quietly recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

BYU dominated the boards, outrebounding San Diego 38-23.

“At their place, they beat us bad on the boards,” Winder said. “We made a conscious effort to rebound tonight.”

The Cougars knocked down 23-of-27 free throws on the night.

Before the game, BYU’s four seniors were honored and received their Senior Blankets prior to their final regular-season contest at the Marriott Center.

BYU got off to a painfully slow start as it missed its first six shots from the floor.

Meanwhile, San Diego scored the first seven points of the game, and BYU finally got on the board on a driving layup with 13:06 left in the first half.

“(San Diego) had a good plan and were consistent with it,” Rose said.

With a start like that, the Cougars were fortunate that the deficit wasn’t worse than it was.

They finally started to look more like themselves over the final 13 minutes of the foul-plagued first half. The officials called 21 fouls and BYU went to the free-throw line 14 times, hitting 13 of its attempts from the charity stripe.

“We were able to get in the bonus early and we got to the foul line,” Haws said.

The Cougars took a 31-28 advantage with just a little more than one minute left in the half on a Skyler Halford 3-pointer, then a pair of free throws by Collinsworth gave BYU its largest lead, 33-28, at intermission.

BYU visits Portland next Thursday (8 p.m. MST, Root), then finishes the regular-season at No. 3 Gonzaga next Saturday (8 p.m. MST, ESPN2).