The BYU Cougars got off to a great start to West Coast Conference play by defeating the Santa Clara Broncos 89-59 on Thursday night at the Marriott Center. Eric Mika led the Cougars with 19 points and 9 rebounds, while T.J. Haws added 17 points on 5/6 shooting (3/3 beyond the arc) and 6 assists. Steven Beo was the only other BYU player in double figures, scoring a career high 12 points on 4/4 shooting, matching Haws by making all three of his shots from beyond the arc. Led by Nick Emery’s defense, BYU held Santa Clara’s best player Jared Brownridge (8 points on 2/8 shooting) 11 points below his season scoring average.
Despite two early fouls for Yoeli Childs, the Cougars got unexpected first half contributions from Jamal Aytes (8 points) and Steven Beo (7 points). Neither of them missed a shot, and combined for 6/6 shooting in the first half. Nick Emery made his older brother Jackson very proud by holding Santa Clara sharpshooter Jared Brownridge without a field goal for the first 16 minutes of the half. When Emery came off the floor for a quick rest at the final media timeout of the half, Brownridge was able to get free for a three pointer while being defended by Haws. Brownridge then hit a second three pointer over Beo’s outstretched arms at the end of the half, but BYU still took a 44-26 lead into the locker room.
BYU extended the lead at the start of the second half behind the outside shooting of Haws, and cruised to a very easy victory to open conference play. The Cougars’ large lead allowed a bulked-up Corbin Kaufusi to make his basketball season debut with 8:20 remaining in the game, just a week after playing in the Poinsettia Bowl for the BYU football team. While he only played four scoreless minutes with a missed shot and a foul, it was great for him to get back into game shape and get his feet wet in a meaningful game. Next on the schedule for BYU is a trip to Southern California for a matchup against Loyola Marymount on Saturday.