2 stars, 2 game-winning BYU basketball shots

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Mark A. Philbrick
Lexi Eaton nails the game-winner to lift the Cougars past Saint Mary’s on March 5 in Las Vegas. Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo

It’s rare for a college basketball program to hit game-winning shots in back-to-back games, but it’s even more rare when players from the men’s and women’s teams combine for those kind of dramatics.

When they come from BYU basketball players Lexi Eaton and Tyler Haws, who hit their game-winners in the WCC Tournament quarterfinals last weekend, those kinds of heroics shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The eerily similar backcourt stars have been incredibly consistent throughout their BYU careers, each making a significant impact from the moment they stepped on campus. They both led their teams in points per game this season, Eaton with 20.8 and Haws with 21.9. They are both excellent free-throw shooters who are proficient in getting to the foul line. But the comparisons were never so apparent as they were in the tournament-opening wins. Both finished with a game-high 30 points, including the shots that advanced the respective teams to the semifinals.

“I was so happy when I heard that Lexi hit her shot to help them beat Saint Mary’s,” Haws said in Saturday’s post-game press conference. “There’s not a harder worker than her on the girls team.”

Eaton is a junior and team captain from Mapleton, Utah. She’s started all but one of her games at BYU, including all 30 in her freshman season. The only significant difference between her career and Haws’ is that she tore her ACL in her sophomore year, while Haws has never had a serious injury. The team obtained a medical redshirt for Eaton in that year, so she didn’t lose any eligibility. Incredibly, she returned to her stellar play the next year, helping the team get to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Tyler Haws hits the game-winnign shot to lift BYU over Santa Clara. Mark A. Philbrick/BYU
Tyler Haws hits the game-winnign shot to lift BYU over Santa Clara. Mark A. Philbrick/BYU

Her career high in scoring is 37, and she has scored more than 1,600 points so far in her college career. Eaton earned All-WCC First Team honors in 2015 and was named WCC Player of the Week in early February after helping Coach Jeff Judkins to his 300th win.

The women’s team was in the stands to see Haws sink his shot, and Eaton had no doubt about the outcome.

“I knew it was going in,” she said. “As soon as he got the ball and he was in the middle. He loves that pull-up jumper, he had good touch on it, he was in good rhythm. He hits big-time shots all the time.”

Haws is a senior captain from Alpine. He has started 134 of 136 games in his career, including 33 of 35 in his freshman season. He came back from his full-time mission to the Philippines without missing a beat, scoring 20 or more points in 25 games as a sophomore. He was the WCC Player of the Year in his junior season and is a finalist for several national awards this year.

Haws passed Jimmer Fredette to become BYU’s all-team leading scorer on Feb. 26 and currently has more than 2,600 points. He was named to the All-WCC First Team for the third straight year and has won WCC Player of the Week honors four times in his BYU career.

“Those two players believe they can do it, and probably more importantly, their teams believe they can do it,” Judkins said. “Their teams trusted them that they could make those shots, and they’ve earned that respect.”

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