BYU (10-5, 1-1) opened 2016 with its first WCC victory and an 81-67 win over the Pacific Tigers (3-10, 2-2) on the road Saturday afternoon.
The game began very much the same way the St. Mary’s game began earlier this week, as an inconsistent first half of poor shooting gave the Cougars some trouble. BYU shot 28 percent in the first half against St. Mary’s and 36 percent in the first half against Pacific. But this time, BYU battled back and came out on top 81-67.
“It’s a big confidence booster, especially coming from the St. Mary’s game,” freshman forward Zac Seljaas said.
The Cougars went on a 9-0 run in the final 57 seconds of the first half to lead by six points 34-28. BYU was sparked by a four-point possession that came as a result of a made free throw by senior guard Kyle Collinsworth, followed by Seljaas’ offensive rebound on Collinsworth’s missed second free throw. Seljaas then passed it to senior guard Chase Fischer, who made a 3-pointer. Collinsworth scored two more free throws and Fischer scored another 3-pointer before halftime.
BYU built on the momentum they created before halftime and later played more consistently. The Cougars went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half, going from a tied score of 43-43 to 55-43. BYU never looked back. They shot 52 percent in the second half and and led by as many as 20 points.
“We played well,” head coach Dave Rose said. “It was exactly what we needed to get a big win. Our execution late in the game was tremendous.”
Fischer scored more than 20 points in his fourth-straight game and led the Cougars with 23 points. Collinsworth put up 22 points, five rebounds and eight assists. He also set a career records of made free throws and free throw attempts, scoring on 12-of-17 attempts.
“This was one of (Collinsworth’s) best all-around complete games,” Rose said. “He gets more and more confidence when the guys hit the shots….He feels really really comfortable in his ability to draw the defenders and the get the ball to open shooters.”
Fischer and Seljaas combined for 10 3-pointers, six and four respectively. Seljaas made four of his six 3-point attempts and scored 14 points. He has shot 70 percent from the 3-point line in the past five games.
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center next week to play two home games. BYU hosts Santa Clara on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. (MST) and San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. (MST).