The BYU Cougars traveled to take on the Portland Pilots in the first game of a must win road trip. The Cougars are sitting on the edge of the bubble right now and a loss to Portland would end any hopes of a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Not only were the Cougars fighting for their post-season lives, but Tyler Haws would be looking for the all-time school scoring crown.
The Cougars came out slow in the first half as the Pilots' size caused problems in the paint. The Cougars missed a number of shots in the paint as long arms altered and blocked shots. Corbin Kaufusi looked good early on as he grabbed a few rebounds and scored four points, one after his own miss, but foul trouble limited him to six first half minutes.
Haws came out hitting on all cylinders as he scored eight of the first 12 points for BYU. With just under 15 minutes left in the half Haws received a pass and drove down the lane, dropping in an easy right handed lay-up to not only tie the game at 12, but it gave him 2,601 points for his career, passing the great Jimmer as the all-time leading scorer at BYU, and in Utah college basketball history.
The Cougars would stay close and even take a one point lead, but allowed Portland a couple of late runs. After a 6-0 run gave BYU a 24-23 lead, Portland went on their own 6-0 run to take back a five point lead, then later finished the half on a 9-0 run to take a 41-33 lead into the locker room.
BYU came out strong in the second half with a quick 11-2 run to take a one point lead. After the Pilots got a bucket plus the foul, BYU added an 8-0 run as Chase Fischer hit a tough three with a hand in his face, Skyler Halford laid in an inbound pass, and then hit a three pointer after a fake pass. This sequence gave BYU a 52-46 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the game.
The Cougars struggled for a bit on the defensive end and Portland found themselves in the double bonus only seven minutes in, but would only shoot 11-20 from the line in the second half. The Pilots pulled within two, but Halford and Haws teamed up for a 7-0 run to put BYU up 59-50 with just under 10 minutes left.
The Pilots chipped away at the Cougars' lead and pulled within two with about four minutes to play when Jason Todd hit a free throw after a bucket. But that would be as close as it would get.
Halford gave the Cougars a breathing room with a three, then a steal by Frank Bartley IV led to two Haws free throws to put BYU up 74-67. Ryan Andrus added a score off Collinsworth's 10th assist of the game. As the Cougars continued to hit their free throws, the opposite happened for Portland and BYU pulled away.
BYU posted a 13-0 run to take an 82-67 lead before the final score settled at 82-69. Collinsworth recorded his 15th double-double of the year with 15 points, six rebounds, 11 assists, and three steals. Haws led all scorers with 21 and Halford added 19.
BYU will next visit Gonzaga on Saturday in an 8pm MST tip-off on ESPN2.