The Cougar basketball team reached its largest winning streak of the season, beating the San Diego Toreros 75-62 in its last home game of the year.
BYU recognized its four seniors, Skyler Halford, Josh Sharp, Anson Winder and Tyler Haws, before the game.
“It’s hard to take it all in,” Winder said. “This is the last time you prepare for a home game, the last time you go through the warm-up and all the anticipation for this game. It was a weird feeling, but after all the emotions of going through Senior Night, it felt good to get out and run around with the guys again and get a win.”
The emotion of pregame ceremonies lingered through the early moments of the game, as USD held the Cougars scoreless for the first seven minutes.
“I don’t know if we were still thinking about Senior Night or what, but we eventually got it going,” Haws said.
San Diego’s Johnny Dee opened the scoring with a 3-pointer on the first possession, but both the Cougars and Toreros struggled through a choppy first half, recording six fouls each in the first eight minutes of the game.
“You never know what kind of whistle you’re going to get, especially in this league,” Haws said. “There were tons of fouls, and we talked about being aggressive and going right at them. We were able to get to the bonus early, get to the foul line and get some easy points.”
Forty percent of BYU’s first-half points came from the free-throw line.
USD opened up a 7-0 lead before BYU finally scored its first points with Winder’s driving layup at the 13:06 mark.The Cougars then battled back to take a three-point lead, and it stayed close throughout the half.
BYU held a 33-28 advantage going into halftime, led by Kyle Collinsworth’s 10 points. Duda Sanadze also scored 10 for the Toreros before the break.
BYU head coach Dave Rose started Winder in the second half in place of Sharp, and the senior guard rewarded his decision with five quick points to stretch the Cougar lead to 10.
“Anson played really well; he gave us a huge lift,” Rose said. “The most important thing is that we’ve got guys out there that are giving full effort the whole time.”
BYU didn’t look back from that point on, never allowing San Diego to come within 10 points of its lead.
The Cougars know they are still on thin ice, fighting for their NCAA Tournament hopes in every game.
“We still feel like we have a lot to prove,” Haws said. “In a lot of ways, our tournament’s already started, so we’ve got to bring it every single time we step on the floor.”
Haws scored a game-high 28 points, leaving him just six behind Jimmer Fredette’s BYU career record. He’ll try to break that when the team travels to Portland on Thursday.
“It’s really hard to win games,” Rose said. “I want all these guys to get all these records, but I hope the fans understand that the most important thing for me and these players is winning the game.”