The Cougars escape with a narrow 73–70 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions after a much needed win before heading to the WCC tournament.
BYU improves to a 21–10 overall record and a 10–6 conference record that also guaranteed a third seed in the conference tournament. The Lions dropped their 14th game in a row with a 8–22 overall record and a 1–15 WCC record.
“Today was a long day waiting for this game to start because of so many factors,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “We wanted the guys to be ready, and the coaches had to do a lot to make the team understand this game would be tougher than the last two. We knew LMU would be a challenge and we knew we needed to give a lot of effort after two tough games for us.”
With both teams in need of a win to head into the tournament, the game was a physical battle with bodies flying and players falling on their backs. The game combined for a total of 50 fouls and 53 free-throw attempts with three LMU players fouling out.
“With Brandon and a few of our other guys in foul trouble tonight, we got some great bench points,” Rose said.
Rose also acknowledged Josh Sharp’s and the rest of his bench’s contribution and energy off the bench.
Brandon Davies was in foul trouble again but handled it well by diving for loose balls and finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Tyler Haws didn’t have a great shooting night but was a perfect 14 for 14 at the charity stripe and scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed six rebounds.
“We had to hit some big free throws tonight to stay ahead,” Rose said. “We made some mistakes tonight uncharacteristic of ourselves and we’ll have to look at those. The most important thing is that we won.”
Despite having nine turnovers, Matt Carlino bounced back with 11 points, on 4–6 shooting, and seven assists to contribute to their win.
The Lions scored 22 points off the BYU’s 19 turnovers, but BYU’s defensive intensity carried over from their last few games and out-rebounded the Lions 40 to 25.
The Lions gave BYU a scare after cutting down BYU’s 15-point lead in the second half to four with 10 seconds left in the game.
“Anytime you can get a win on the road it feels good,” Haws said. “Coach Rose had challenged us not to be discouraged, and to play tough tonight. I’m glad we were able to do that and get the win.”
Haws said it was nice to be the leading scorer in the WCC, but was more focused on helping his team get better.
“We’re ready for a run in the tournament, we’re in a good place,” Haws said. “We all just work for the team. Coach Rose is great about consistency, making sure we’re consistent, and he gets good teams in here every year so he can do that.”
BYU will start their first tournament game in the quarter finals on Friday at 8:30 p.m PST at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.