BYU vs Santa Clara recap: Cougars start hot, coast to win over Broncos

USA TODAY Sports

BYU found their range and got plenty of punch off the bench to extend their winning streak to five games with a 91-81 win over the Broncos.

At the 44 second mark, I thought we were in for a white-knuckler.  For those of you that watched - possibly on TheW.tv like me... *shudder* - you may recall that as the point in the game when Tyler Haws left the game with 2 quick fouls. Over the next couple minutes, I'm not sure how many times the whistle blew, but it seemed like a lot. I thought to myself "I've seen this game before. Early foul trouble against a talented team. This is gonna be a long night." And then it happened.  Skyler Halford hit two big 3-pointers to put the Cougars in front and all of a sudden the flood gates opened.

FIRST HALF

The first guy that has to be mentioned is Anson Winder because he had it going. We've all had one of those days on the court, and Ansy was definitely the benefactor of a hot streak in the first half. Everything he put up seemed like it had GPS on its way through the hoop and the good fortune was contagious. Kyle Collinsworth continued to look like a mismatch for just about anyone that thought about guarding him. He abused the Broncos and got to the line plenty, which is good because it looked like he needed a little time to find his stroke from the line.

Add all of this up, and it looked like this one was going to be a laugher. BYU built an early 24 point lead behind a video game-like 64% clip at one point, including 6 of 8 from distance. Santa Clara meanwhile seemed stuck in first gear.  The home team's talent was apparent, especially freshman Jared Brownridge who had 14 in the first and finished with a career-high 30 for the game. But overall SCU seemed like it had a lid on the basket, shooting just 32% and 2 of 13 from behind the arc. Ouch.

The Cougars took a comfortable 47-30 lead to the locker room. Game over, right? ...Right?

SECOND HALF (MATTY TIME)

OK, OK so the last 20 minutes weren't that dramatic considering the lead never shrunk to single digits. But the doesn't mean the Broncos didn't show flashes. Even with Haws back in the game, Santa Clara went on a 12-0 run to trim the lead to 10. The wide-bodied Robert Garrett gave Erik Mika some problems inside, which turned into a slew of turnovers and the sudden swing in momentum had BYU gasping for breath.

Enter Matt Carlino. It should be mentioned that Matt played well in the first half too. He joined the 3-point barrage with two triples of his own, had a pretty gnarly no-look assist to Erik Mika off penetration, and even rose up for a big shot block. Oh, and he also reached the 1,000 point mark for his career. However, highlights aside, Carlino did the most damage in the second half.

When Santa Clara went on the aforementioned 12-0 run, it was Matt (and Josh Sharp too actually) that keyed the Cougar counter-punch. Carlino pushed the pace on offense, which resulted in nine quick, unanswered points for the Cougars (capped by a gorgeous 30-something foot pass from Carlino to Sharp for the and-one).

And so it went for the rest of the game. The Broncos would strike, but BYU always had an answer until it was too late. Six different players for the boys in blue finished in double figures (including Haws who extended his 10+ points scoring streak) and the Cougars coasted to the Bay Area sweep with a 91-81 victory.

TAKE AWAYS

Coach Rose might have found something. Like, really found something. Carlino seems to have embraced his role as the 6th man, and the offense is humming because of it. Make no mistake, Carlino is still one of our best five players, but Coach Rose is using him like Manu Ginobili, Jamal Crawford, or even Jason Terry for the Mavs circa '08 as a spark plug and potentially devastating scoring punch off the bench. I dare say there are zero other teams in the WCC that have that kind of luxury, so if BYU can continue to get good minutes out of Halford and if KC continues to do KC things, the team is going to be in pretty darn good shape moving forward.

Also, don't expect another 16-point performance from Anson Winder any time soon. It was very nice to see the Cougs get a lift from an unexpected source, but the best we can probably hope for is the other role guys taking turns having hot shooting nights and see what happens from there.

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