Tyler Haws grabs an offensive rebound off Brandon Davies’ missed jumper and BYU coach Dave Rose calls a timeout with 32 seconds on the clock. Tied at 68 points a piece, Matt Carlino dribbles out the clock, pulls up for three with two seconds left, and it’s short. But it’s not over. Craig Cusick grabs the rebound with a put-back right before the buzzer and wins the game in a shaking Marriott Center.
BYU knows what it feels like to lose on a buzzer-beater, but it felt good to be on the good end this time around. The Cougars fought for a full 40 minutes to escape with a narrow 70–68 victory over in-state rival the Utah State Aggies.
The only field goal Cusick made was all that mattered on a rare night when the ball didn’t go through the hoop. Despite making the game-winning shot, he still gives credit to his coach and teammates.
“It’s hard to explain,” Cusick said. “As a player, you couldn’t dream it any better, and I was just fortunate. … It’s great that I made the shot, but I give all the credit in the world to my teammates during the game. I made one shot during the whole game, so I give credit to my teammates that pulled us through the rest of the way.”
It was an emotional game to play in after finding out his father had cancer the same morning, but Cusick didn’t hold back with his big shot. It might not have been the only game-winning shot he made in his life, but it was the best one.
“This has been the best one in my life by far, and there’s no question about it,” Cusick said. “This has meant a lot for me, and I just couldn’t be happier that I was able to be a part of this with my team.”
The game was a physical battle that ended with a total of 51 fouls and 60 free-throw attempts. Whistles were blown all over the court as six Cougars were hit with two fouls apiece by halftime. Emotions and excitement were high, but BYU didn’t stop fighting.
“When you can win a game and shoot 35 percent from the field, you know that your team competed,” Rose said. “They just battled; they fought through a lot of adversity because this game didn’t flow through at all.”
The Aggies battled their way back into it by hitting big shots and with defensive letdowns by the Cougars after being down by nine at halftime. Haws, who scored a game-high 27 points, expected the physicality but said it felt good to come out on top.
BYU only shot 26.7 percent from the field in the second half but finished with 14 steals and forced Utah State to a total of 18 turnovers that led to 18 BYU points.
“Our guys are just fighters, and we fight for 40 minutes until the very end,” Haws said. “That’s just the type of players we are.”
Following Tuesday’s win, BYU improves to a 20–8 overall record and looks forward to playing conference foe the Saint Mary’s Gaels.
“There’s lots of room to improve, and this team is still improving and getting better,” Haws said. “We’re looking forward to Thursday.”
The Cougars hit the road to play at Saint Mary’s on Thursday at 8 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and can be heard on KSL radio.