After losing to Saint Mary’s in January, BYU wasn’t about to do it again, especially at home. The Cougars – who lead the country in scoring at 84.8 points per game – beat the Gaels, 82-60, on Thursday, placing four players in double figures.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” BYU guard Tyler Haws said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They beat us at their place. We talked about rebounding all week. We felt like our team plays really well when we can win the rebounding battle. That was kind of our focus going into the game. Everyone was locked in. I think that led to all the other great numbers. Being locked in, just getting blocks, getting those hustle plays and then we just shared the ball on the other end. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling.”
BYU won – or dominated – every major statistical category, including rebounds (37-26), assists (19-7), steals (9-6) and blocks (7-2).
“I’m happy with the way our guys came ready to play tonight,” Haws said. “We found a way to get a good win.”
Haws finished with 15 points, while Chase Fischer had 14 and Kyle Collinsworth and Skyler Halford tied for the game-high with 17 apiece. BYU shot 50 percent from the floor and hit 9-of-19 three-pointers (47.4 percent).
“It was a fun, fun game,” Haws said. “We got out in transition, we shared the ball really well – everyone just came ready to play. Guys were knocking down shots and we were getting stops on defense and clean rebounds that let us get out in transition. That’s really when our team’s at our best – when we can get in transition and get easy shots.”
BYU had 13 offensive rebounds Thursday, getting second chance after second chance.
“Hopefully it continues to be like that in our next few games,” Haws said. “The games that we’ve come up a little short this year, we’ve lost the rebounding battle. We feel like if everyone can stay locked in mentally to just find a body, box out and pursue the ball, then we can get out in transition and play the way that we want to.”
For BYU, rebounding is a team effort. Collinsworth, a guard, finished with a game-high nine boards.
“Kyle, he’s an amazing athlete,” Haws said of the 6-6, 210-pounder. “He’s has five triple-doubles this season. He does a little bit of everything. There’s been some rebounds this year where I’ve been amazed. He has a special way of going up and tracking down the ball.”
BYU (19-8, 9-5) has won four of five and hosts Pacific (10-15, 2-11) this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. The Cougars have three games against middle-of-the-pack conference rivals before ending the season at No. 3 Gonzaga (25-1, 13-0) on Feb. 28.
“It’s always a big game with those guys,” Haws said. “We’re definitely looking forward to that one. Their place up there is a fun place to play, and it gets really rowdy. We’ll be ready.”