The BYU basketball team continued its winning streak, beating the Pacific Tigers 84-59 on Saturday in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
“That was a good team win for our guys,” Cougar head coach Dave Rose said. “We had quite a few players that really stepped up and just played well.”
Kyle Collinsworth finished the game one assist shy of his sixth triple-double, which would have tied the NCAA record for triple-doubles in a career as well as extended the record he already holds for most in a single season.
BYU and Pacific played a tightly contested first half with seven lead changes and three ties in the opening 12 minutes of the game.
The Cougars then went on a 7-0 run, with five of those points coming from Tyler Haws. The Tigers answered with a 7-0 run of their own to retake the lead, and the teams again traded baskets for the remaining four minutes.
BYU led 33-30 at the break behind Chase Fischer’s team-leading 10 points.
The back-and-forth play continued in the second half until a series of defensive plays by Josh Sharp energized the Cougars and the home crowd. In three straight defensive possessions, Sharp came up with a big defensive rebound, made a huge block and drew a charging foul to shift the momentum in BYU’s favor.
“(Sharp) can rebound, and he can jump extremely high,” Collinsworth said. “He goes in there and gets that offensive rebound to give us an extra shot; he makes the big blocks down the stretch. He just makes the extra plays for us with his athletic ability.”
BYU is 3-0 in games Sharp has started and are allowing 62.3 ppg during that stretch, well below the team’s season average of 71.2 ppg.
“These rebounds that he’s getting for us are really timely, key offensive boards, and defensively he’s just given us a big lift,” Rose said.
The Cougars still couldn’t create enough separation in the score to feel comfortable, as Pacific kept the BYU lead within five throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“We kept getting five-point leads, and I think it’s just a mental thing,” senior guard Skyler Halford said. “It’s just something we had to break through. We did, and that was big for us.”
A pair of David Taylor 3-pointers gave the Tigers their last lead of the game at the 11-minute mark. The Cougars subsequently rattled off 14 straight points, which included a pair of Haws free throws after Pacific forward Jacob Lampkin received a technical foul with 9:45 to go.
BYU continued to stretch its lead with big contributions from Frank Bartley IV and Corbin Kaufusi, who provided great defense and inside scoring late in the game.
Rose took Collinsworth out of the game in the final minute to a chorus of boos from the Marriott Center crowd.
“The bottom line is, this team is dialed in for one thing: we’re trying to win a game,” Rose said of his decision to sub out Collinsworth. “When I got him out I realized something was going on, because everybody booed.”
Twenty-five is the largest margin of victory the Cougars have had since their Jan. 3 road game against San Francisco.
The team will try to avenge an earlier loss to San Diego when the Toreros visit Provo next Thursday.