The Cougars coast to victory against Santa Clara for third straight win

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The Cougars won their third straight game off big nights from Haws and Collinsworth to beat the Broncos for the second time this season, 89-76, setting up a big game on Saturday for second place outright in the WCC.

Four players scored in double digits Thursday night in Provo, giving the Cougars a 27-point lead midway through the second half while Tyler Haws sat on the bench, resting on his 27 points off 9-12 from the field, five rebounds and 8-9 from the line.

BYU's Eric Mika dunks the ball during the game against Santa Clara on Thursday. Photo courtesy AP Photo/The Daily Herald, Spenser Heaps.
BYU’s Eric Mika dunks the ball during the game against Santa Clara on Thursday. (Photo courtesy AP Photo/The Daily Herald, Spenser Heaps)

“It’s unreal the way he’s scoring right now; it’s almost Kevin-Durant-like, really,” said junior guard Anson Winder on Haws’ shooting streak.

Winder played a valuable 26 minutes, logging just one point but contributing six rebounds to the Cougar total of 50, their most in a game this season.

The Cougars got off to a hot start, jumping to an 11-point lead off a Skyler Halford three, giving the Cougar starters plenty of rest and valuable playing time to freshman Luke Worthington, who had a career-high seven points, and Frank Bartley IV, who got 13 minutes.

“It felt great,” Haws said of his fourth-quarter rest. “I love it when our team jumps out like that and we can get a big lead. I thought our guys played really well and controlled their guards and we shared the ball really well, so I was really happy tonight.”

Kyle Collinsworth added 18 points off 6-11 from the field, gathering three rebounds, four assists and five steals for a well-rounded outing. True freshman Eric Mika earned his third double-double of the season, putting 10 points off 4-9 from the field and gathering 10 rebounds, half of them offensive.

“Tonight I thought that Eric and Nate were really good around the basket,” said BYU head coach Dave Rose. “Not only on catches and facilitating the pass when we would cut through, but also being able to score that ball.”

With less than 10 minutes to play in the first half, Mika patiently waited down low, receiving the ball from Barley down in the post, spun around and threw down a huge dunk to take the Cougar lead to 10 with 9:23 to play in the first half.

The Broncos were led by junior guard Jared Brownridge, who burned the Cougars for 30 points in their last meeting but was held to just 18 and 0-6 from beyond the arc. Brandon Clark also added 16 off 7-11 from the field.

The Cougars combined to go 19-21 on free throws in the first half, a cool 90 percent, a benchmark rarely achieved by this group during the season. Mika went 5-5 in the first half, while Haws went 6-6.

Haws has now scored in double figures in all 23 games this season, notching his 45th career 20-point game, placing him fifth all-time in that category as a Cougar.

The Cougars next face the San Francisco Dons on Saturday. The Cougars won the first meeting 83-76 on Jan. 16 in San Francisco. They are tied with the Dons for second place in the WCC, and will earn second outright with a win Saturday in Provo. The Dons have only lost on the road to Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s.

“They’re on a nice little streak, and they’ve been really good on the road,” Rose said. “They play with tremendous energy.”

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