"We had to hit some big free throws tonight to stay ahead," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "We made some mistakes tonight uncharacteristic of ourselves and we'll have to look at those. The most important thing is that we won. This game really shows how good of a coach Max Good is. LMU hasn't won a game in a long time but they could've won tonight. They played us really tough."
With the win, BYU finishes the regular season at 21-10 overall and 10-6 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars will enter next week's WCC Tournament in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena as the No. 3 seed. They will play Friday night at 8:30 p.m. PST against the winner of the No. 6 vs. No. 7 game. LMU falls to 8-22 overall and 1-15 in the WCC.
Haws finished the game with 24 points, going 14 of 14 from the free-throw line. His 24 points marked his 20th game this season with 20 points or more and helped him clinch the WCC scoring title this season. Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies finished with 11 points each.
During the first three minutes of play, LMU jumped out to an 11-6 lead due to the strong offensive presence of Ashley Anderson. BYU fought back with a three from Craig Cusick to put his team within one (16-15) with 13:01 left on the clock. Several minutes later, Brock Zylstra tied the game at 21 following a fade away jumper from the left side. Despite their offensive comeback, several Cougars got into foul trouble early, including Davies, Nate Austin and Raul Delgado with two fouls apiece.
With 6:44 left in the half, Matt Carlino hit a three to give the Cougars their first lead, 24-21, since they led 2-0 at the start of the game. LMU came back within one and remained close until Davies converted on multiple trips down the floor putting the Cougars up 32-27. The last five minutes of the half BYU held LMU to only two points and took the 34-28 lead into the locker room.
Going into the second half, both teams opened up with a 3-pointer, one from Tyler Haws and the other from LMU’s Anthony Ireland. After a series of offensive rebounds, Carlino found Josh Sharp underneath for his first bucket of the night putting BYU up 40-32 with 16:15 to go. During an inbounds play with 15:53 left, Carlino fed Austin for an ally-oop dunk to put BYU up by 11.
BYU struggled to connect with the basket midway through the half, taking only five shots in the first several minutes of play and committing three-consecutive turnovers. A 3-pointer from LMU’s Marin Mornar brought LMU within six. The next play down the floor Davies went to the line and hit both free throws to end a four-minute scoring drought for the Cougars. Following Davies’ free throws, Zystra hit a three to extend the Cougar lead back to 11. BYU extended its lead to 15 at 60-45, its largest of the game, following two free throws from Sharp.
With 4:19 on the clock Ireland hit a 3-pointer to bring LMU within 10. In answer to Ireland’s three, Davies scored in the paint after the Cougars broke LMU’s full-court pressure. Davies was fouled on the shot but missed the point after. The Lions responded by outscoring BYU 10-2, but a Haws three ended the run with 2:42 left and pushed the lead back to 10 at 65-55. The Cougars' lead was cut to seven following another LMU 3-pointer.
With 6.4 seconds on the clock Ireland hit his third three of the night to cut BYU’s lead to four. Following the inbounds the Lions fouled Haws who went back to the line to make two more free throws. Ireland hit one more three at the buzzer making the final score 73-70.
The Cougars will be the 3-seed in the upcoming West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.