The Cougar basketball team got a much-needed 82-60 victory over conference rival St. Mary’s Thursday night.
“It seems like the last three or four weeks we’ve just been trying to find ways to hang in there, but I thought tonight we were good on both ends,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said.
BYU was again without senior guard Anson Winder, but unlike their last game against the Gaels, the Cougars didn’t need him in this one.
Cougar forwards Corbin Kaufusi and Luke Worthington set the tone early with strong interior defense on St. Mary’s star Brad Waldow.
“(Kaufusi) is an animal,” senior forward Josh Sharp said. “We know if we force players where we want them to go, we’ve got him back there to be able to block shots.”
Kaufusi blocked Waldow’s layup attempt on the first possession of the game, and it wouldn’t get much better from there. The Cougars held him to just three points in the first 15 minutes of play.
BYU started a perfect 4–of–4 from three and took an early 10-point lead at 18-8. The Cougars stayed hot and stretched their lead to as many as 19 despite Tyler Haws playing only six first-half minutes due to foul trouble.
“We have a lot of capable guys,” BYU guard Chase Fischer said. “Tyler’s obviously a great player and great scorer, but we’ve got a lot of guys who can score. It’s always a positive thing when your leading scorer goes out and you can still make shots.”
BYU held a 42-30 advantage at halftime led by Kyle Collinsworth’s 14 points and five rebounds.
The Cougars stayed aggressive coming out of the locker room, starting with a 6-0 run that included two put-back buckets from Sharp. Sharp provided a necessary spark for BYU in his second-straight start, hustling to offensive rebounds and loose balls on his way to eight points, six boards and a career-high five assists on the night.
“Sharp has really given us a lift in the last two games,” Rose said.
Haws made up for lost time in the second half, quickly scoring nine and guiding the Cougars to a 31-point lead. He took a hard fall after securing a defensive rebound with 13 minutes to go but was able to play through it and is not expected to miss any time.
BYU cruised to victory, never allowing the Gaels to come back within 20. Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by Collinsworth and Skyler Halford, who had 17 each. Kaufusi finished with four blocks, his second-straight game with at least three.
Waldow also scored 17 to lead the Gaels in defeat.
“Waldow’s one of the best players in our league, and he’s good at finding other players and getting their whole team involved,” Sharp said. “He still scored his points, but we were able to get a few turnovers and shut some of the other players down that he normally finds.”
With the win BYU stays in third place in the WCC, one game ahead of the Pepperdine Waves, who lost to Portland at home on Thursday.