A pretty routine Marriott Center home game had a little bit of everything.

It just so happened that Thursday's halftime may have been the most entertaining part.

The Cougars honored a slew of all-America cited athletes from an eclectic group of sports.

Then a BYU student, DJ Conner, went and drained three consecutive free throws to win prizes for his section. Special because he nailed them all underhanded, and took home free bread for a year.

Along with him donating his share to charity, that was the best way to butter an 89-76 win against overmatched, wore-down Santa Clara.

"Try to control the tempo and not let them get easy shots," Anson Winder said matter-of-factly after helping the Cougars shut down the perimeter and force the Broncos into a 9-of-26 night from 3-point range, and win the rebounding battle 50-32.

Oh, besides just making SCU trudge along, there was a strong offensive showing, especially from Tyler Haws, who had 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting and was complemented by three teammates in double figures as the Cougars shot nearly 50 percent from the field.

"It's unreal the way he's scoring right now. It's almost Kevin Durant-like, really, if you look at it," Winder said. "It's so impressive. He's such a great player, it's fun to watch him have these big scoring nights. Hopefully he can keep it up, because we need it as a team. We get behind him every game because he leads us."

BYU jumped to a 25-14 lead, the run completed on a 3-pointer by Skyler Halford from the corner after Haws made a quick pass to his left at the 12-minute mark.

Smooth sailing, right? BYU was even able to sit Haws a significant chunk of the second half to keep him rested for a significantly harder test Saturday against fellow second-place team San Francisco.

But it wasn't all light-hearted, even though Santa Clara didn't have anything to do with some slight drama.

For whatever reason, there was a little more disconnect between the referees and the BYU bench than usual, especially considering the Cougars' constant scoreboard edge.

The angst included referee James Giron jogging from the other end of the floor late in the first half to issue a warning on the BYU bench. All because assistant coach Mark Pope took a couple of steps onto the playing floor to issue some directions to a few players during a Broncos free throw.

Sure, Pope is pretty tall and can be hard to see around for media seated behind him — but really, a summons at that point when the noise wasn't directed at the official?

It got the crowd of about 12,518 unnecessarily riled up and it went that way for most of the first half despite the one-sidedness between the actual teams.

BYU head coach Dave Rose expressed dissatisfaction at the end of the first half with the three-man crew, because it failed to notice a serious shot-clock malfunction. Winder said players were trying to get the referees' attention.

The Broncos had close to the final possession. It would've had to shoot with about three seconds left before halftime. But the clock above the basket was racing down starting at the unusual number of 70, for whatever reason. The refs never noticed. Rose wasn't happy.

It was easy to lose focus, however, on a night when the Cougars breezed and shot 42 free throws, making 31.

Santa Clara had a 31-15 advantage on points off the bench, and that was about it. Jared Brownridge, who was solid in the first meeting last month, was held to 16 points and 1-of-7 shooting in the second half (5-of-19 overall).

Whatever the case, it's done.

BYU was focused enough to maintain a share of second place in the West Coast Conference.

San Francisco, tied with the Cougars entering the night (7-4), won 74-67 at San Diego an hour before the Cougars finished up.

USF, which won in Provo last year, will visit Saturday night. (First-place Gonzaga, 11-1, had the night off.)

It was an incredibly choppy first half but didn't totally slow down BYU. The Cougars led, 53-40, behind a game-high 17 points from Haws.

He sparked a string of BYU scoring on four consecutive possessions nearly midway through the opening 20 minutes. A jumpshot and a layup contributed to building a 25-14 cushion.

The home team led by as many as 18 points with two minutes left before the break.

Kyle Collinsworth (18 points on 6-of-11 shooting), Eric Mika (15) and Halford (12) helped out, contributing a combined 9-of-19 shooting and 27 points in the first half alone.

SCU never led by more than three points, within the game's first minute, and never pulled within 11 after intermission. BYU's lead grew to 27 with five minutes left.

Haws already totaled 13 points in building a 34-23 lead with 7:44 left in the first half, including a nifty-if-bizarre play in which he lost the ball while driving to the basket but was able to maintain his composure and convert the layup at the 12:30 mark.

"I was going to try and dunk it, then I lost the ball going up." Haws said. "Luckily, I grabbed it and laid it in. I was hoping it look like I tried to bounce it an alley-oop it to myself. I guess it didn't look like that."

Mika also brought some fun, converting a couple of early 3-point play dunks, including one in which the freshman center was still hanging on the rim when the ball finally flushed.

BYU improved to 6-0 against SCU in three years of WCC affiliation, including both meetings this year.

But the Cougars will just move on and get ready for USF, a team that caused fits for the Cougars over the years despite a multitude of roster changes.

"More than anything, the momentum that you're dealing with," Rose said when asked how interested he was right after the final buzzer in finding out USF's result. "Obviously they're on a nice little streak. They've been really good on the road."

The best benefit of this one, looking ahead, was Haws' ability to rest, playing only 28 minutes — still the most floor time in a balanced effort.

He was pulled about midway through the second half as the Cougars were well in control.

Rose said his intention was to only take Haws out for a few minutes, but the reserves extended the lead and allowed their star to sit.

"Ty was probably looking forward to getting ready for the next one," Rose said.

∫Tip-ins: Kyle Collinsworth has been in double figures for scoring in 17 straight games. ...Haws (1,746 points) moved ahead of Mikeli Wesley for No. 8 all-time scoring at BYU.

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-- Jason Franchuk covers primarily BYU football and basketball for the Daily Herald. You can connect with him by email at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com or by following him on Twitter at

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