SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Scary may not be quite the right word. He had time to anticipate the launch and get out of the way.
But Tyler Haws avoiding a first-half dust-up may have been the most suspenseful part of a relatively dominating Saturday night at Santa Clara in a 91-81 BYU win.
Haws happened to be biding a lot of time on the bench. He picked up (gasp!) two fouls in the opening minute, before there was even a score, and the junior sharpshooter found himself basically getting a free front-row ticket at Leavey Center to a mostly one-sided West Coast Conference game.
If he would've drifted off — and no one could've blamed him as the Cougars built a 17-point first half lead — Haws may very well have been steamrolled late in the first half.
Not that BYU needed him for the most part in a place where BYU had won the past two meetings by about 16 1/2 points, and didn't let up much on that trend this time, despite some struggles in the final 20 minutes. But who knows what it could've meant for Haws' immediate future had a 220-pound Santa Clara missed-shot chaser turned him into Santa Haws and landed hard on his lap?
Haws avoided getting run over, and made the quick two fouls a non-issue as well.
"That was a pretty crazy deal," Haws said of the foul trouble, the fastest in his personal history and as fast as coach Dave Rose had ever seen. "I just tried to keep my head in it, and guys really stepped up...I'm just really proud."
BYU led by as many as 24 points, though had it cut to a range of 10 twice in the second half behind its own sloppy play and the Broncos finding some of their own shooting.
Alas, Haws had a support system around him, too.
The big spark was buffer zone Anson Winder, who had all 16 of his points in the first half when the Cougars built a 47-30 lead as he replaced Haws.
"I just had to come in and bring energy, like usual," Winder said. "I think we all felt that way."
The rest of the Cougars kept their focus, too, in the critical early stages despite playing a clearly overmatched team that was also down a couple of starters because of pre-game suspensions for off-court issues.
Winder went off for 10 points in a row midway through the first half, as many as he scored here last season in a fine performance off the bench.
"There's days in practice where Ans really gets it going," Haws said. "And he really shoots the ball well. I knew it was in him. He stepped up and was ready for that challenge. He was big-time."
Of course, Haws' early foul troubles played a part in Winder getting some earlier-than-expected time. Haws was called for an illegal screen at BYU's end of the floor. Then he came right back down and was whistled for being too handsy on defense.
Rose put both of his hands on his own head, as Haws rarely finds foul trouble, let alone within the first 60 seconds.
"That was quick, that's what I thought," Rose said as diplomatically as he could muster. "Probably as quick as I've ever seen. But it just meant we had to figure out something else."
But just as Haws could take a seat, Rose had no reason to get too worked up when the game played out.
Well, on second thought — there were a couple points late in the second half Rose was beside himself over unfocused defense and a period when BYU had accumulated more turnovers (eight) than shots made (six).
Even after a 12-0 run midway through the second half, aided by BYU turnovers, the Broncos never pulled within 10. Another late surge in the final two minutes drew a little more ire by Rose to his own group after Santa Clara nailed its ninth 3-pointer (in 25 tries).
If only SCU could've started over, and guarded Winder after easing off him as he replaced Haws.
If only BYU could've played an entire game how it started, even with its best scorer on the sideline.
Winder hit a pair of 3-pointers in a sizzling stretch in the first half. He made it 12-8 with a long jumpshot about six minutes in. The mellow junior even reacted to a referee when it wasn't called a 3-pointer.
Relax there, big guy. Those would come.
He made it 15-10 with one of those, then 17-10 with another jumper just inside the arc.
Another 3-pointer made it a 20-12 Cougar lead at 10:55, and maybe Haws should've just been allowed to be a part-time Bronco for the next 30 minutes.
BYU hit 6-of-8 shots from 3-point range in the opening half on its way to winning a fifth consecutive game.
The Cougars improved to 13-7 and 5-2 in West Coast Conference games.
They're alone in second place, as Gonzaga improved to 6-1 with a win at Loyola Marymount — where BYU lost to start league play in late December.
Santa Clara was without two key players, a pair of seniors suspended for academic issues. The announcement was made right before tipoff. Rose said the roster shuffle was a surprise.
Point guard Evan Roquemore (top 10 in the WCC for career assists, hovering right around former Gonzaga and Utah Jazz legend John Stockton) and John McArthur provided about a combined 15.5 points.
Not that it may have mattered a ton for Santa Clara, which fell to 10-11 (3-5 WCC) and thus became the first of the 10 teams to have an overall losing record.
BYU started the second half strong before ultimately having trouble putting SCU away.
"They're a really streaky team," Rose said. "They've got great 3-point shooters though. We as coaches knew this thing was far from over...and knew that Santa Clara is capable of putting on a big run just on threes."
Haws started the second half and scored on BYU's first possession.
On the next defensive attempt, Skyler Halford dove near mid-court to create a loose ball that the Cougars recovered right by where Haws sat so patiently for awhile.
Haws had 16 points total, hitting 5-of-8 shots and getting opportunities from Matt Carlino, who like Winder thrived off the bench.
Carlino had 15 points and nine assists, including a crisp one-bounce pass to a cutting Haws for a dunk with 9:45 left that silenced a big burst of energy from the home team.
Kyle Collinsworth added 18 points, continuing his trend of strong WCC play. He added seven rebounds and four assists.
BYU had 22 assists, 17 more than two nights prior at San Francisco.
∫Surprised: Winder grew up with Roquemore in the Las Vegas area, and they were hoops teammates in elementary school. They still keep in touch, though Winder said he had no idea his old pal wouldn't be playing because of academic issues.
"I was a little disappointed because I love to play against him," said Winder. "But at the same time, I knew it would help us. He's such a great player."
Roquemore also wasn't on the sideline with his team.
Brandon Clark had 20 points in playing virtually the whole game (more than 39 minutes). He hit 8-of-21 shots, but only 2-of-8 from 3-point range.
Rose praised Clark's work but acknowledged "Roquemore's a guy that is hard to replace...they missed him."
∫BYU's presence has provided a bump to opposing teams' attendance the past couple of games.
Santa Clara had an announced crowd of 2,560, including a fair number of BYU fans. The Broncos have been averaging a league-worst 1,580 at home.
San Francisco was the second-worst (among 10 WCC schools) in drawing a crowd. The Dons drew 2,137 on Thursday night, about 600 above average.
∫Tip-ins: WCC commish, Jamie Zaniovich, and director of officials, Dave Libbey, sat in the media area on the middle concourse. ...Matt Carlino had a 3-point play late in the first half that put him over the 1,000-mark for his career. The junior guard is the 46th Cougar to reach that plateau. ...Haws, despite the rough first half, has now scored at least 10 points in 33 consecutive games — eighth longest streak at BYU (Tied with John Fairchild).