The BYU men’s basketball team beat the Santa Clara Broncos 96–79 and was led by a strong defensive effort in the second half.
The first half rocked back and forth and included 10 ties and eight lead changes; however, the Broncos were seven of 12 from behind the arc, but were held to two of 12 in the second half. Although BYU ended the first half only up by one, they came out in the second half with suffocating defense and held SCU to 31 percent shooting and never trailed again.
“We knew we had to step things up defensively,” Brandon Davies said. “In the first half, we gave up some things we were focusing on taking away. They hit a lot of open three’s and they have a lot of great shooters. We just emphasized that a little more in the second half and was able to get stops.”
The Cougars (18–6, 8–2 WCC) shot 58 percent for the game, dominated in the paint, 50 to 20, and scored 20 fast-break points to the Broncos’ (17–7, 5–4 WCC) four.
“The way we finished the second half, our tempo was unbelievable,” Davies said. “Matt (Carlino) got us going and we were all flying up and down the floor trying to catch him. That’s the pace we like to play at. When we’re playing at that pace, it puts teams on their heels.”
Carlino, who got hit above his right eye and bled, led the team with a game-high 28 points and six assists. After subbing out to get his cut bandaged, Carlino came back onto the court 20 seconds later and scored the next eight BYU points and even got a block on the other end.
“Matt caught fire and when guys are hitting shots, we’re good at feeding their fire,” Davies said. “We’re all unselfish guys. That’s why we play so well together.”
Carlino credited the up-tempo style and a well-conditioned team to helping him have such a great night.
“The pace of our game is getting better,” Carlino said. “When we can score that many points, it’s going to be a good night.”
BYU head coach Dave Rose said teams slow down their game this time around the year and his team is one of the few teams that plays at a fast-paced tempo.
“It’s a comfort level for our guys,” Rose said. “When we play that way, the confidence spreads throughout the entire team instead of just one, two or three guys. Tonight, a lot of it was led by Matt.”
Davies added his seventh double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds and was also more aggressive in the second half, finishing with a total of 13 free throw attempts. Tyler Haws scored 24 points and made five assists while Brock Zylstra, who was sung “Happy Birthday” by the student section before the game, contributed eight points and eight rebounds.
BYU’s bench scored a total of 20 points, but 14 of those points came from forward Josh Sharp. Although he came off the bench in the first half, his energy led him to start the next half. Teammates and Rose attributed his energy and effort for keeping BYU afloat in the first half.
“He gives us all energy when he goes in there,” Davies said. “He’s flying around, grabbing boards that no one should be able to get. He works hard everyday in practice and it shows in the games. He definitely gives us a lift every time he’s in there.”
In order for BYU to continue its up-tempo style, getting defensive stops was a point of emphasis and they hope to carry that to San Diego.
“It was a good week for our guys and I look forward to our game in San Diego,” Rose said.
The Cougars hit the road again to play San Diego on Thursday night at 7 p.m. PST at the Jenny Craig Pavillion. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and can be heard on KSL radio.