Although the BYU men’s basketball team led the entire contest, there was still some doubt about the outcome when Pepperdine closed the advantage to just 62-60 with 5:04 to play Tuesday night at the Marriott Center.
During a time out, the coaches called a play for Skyler Halford and the Cougars executed it to perfection, setting him up on the left baseline for a nice jumper.
On the other end, Kyle Collinsworth started the ball back the other way with a defensive rebound. It ended up in the hands of Tyler Haws, and he sank a left-side trey.
He hit two more 3-pointers on the next two BYU possessions and then finished the personal 11-0 spurt with a jumper in the middle of the lane, all in 2 ½ minutes, to push his team ahead 75-62 with 1:58 to play and all but assure a positive outcome for the home squad.
It was vintage Haws, and helped lift the Cougars to an 84-72 redemptive victory over Pepperdine in a near must-win situation.
He jump-started the team as well with seven points in the first three minutes, but endured a stretch in the middle of the game when the ball just wasn’t dropping.
“When they rattle out like that, you just have to keep shooting when you get the opportunity,” Haws said after the contest.
He added that he wasn’t looking to take the game on his shoulders, but things just worked out that way.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive,” he said. “I was getting good looks and my teammates were finding me today. I think they got a little tired and I was able to run some in transition at the end.”
Haws had put up his reliable numbers to that point in the evening, but the flurry at the end produced the sixth 30-point game of his career and the third this year. It was also reminiscent of the clutch play for which he’s been noted throughout his prep and university career.
He finished with 35 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the floor. He was also 4-of-6 beyond the arc, where he hasn’t had as much success as he wanted of late, and he was 9-of-9 at the line.
Perhaps the biggest bonus coming from the outing was to see him getting into a familiar rhythm once again, which has been hard to find at times this season for a variety of reasons.
The coaches are still experimenting with lineups, and that has had an impact. They’re probably not done yet, so it remains to be seen how the situation will play out as they move forward.
But for tonight, it was just enough that they won. Haws and Collinsworth both acknowledged that there are still many challenges ahead, but they were happy to have put this one in the books.
Beky Beaton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.