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Matt Carlino's late-game heroics push BYU to 63-61 victory over Pepperdine

Carlino made the definitive plays in an exciting victory over Pepperdine.

USA TODAY Sports

After tempting fate for much of the game, BYU rode Matt Carlino's clutch shooting to a comeback victory Thursday night over the Pepperdine Waves. With around a minute left to play and just a few seconds left on the shot clock, Carlino hit a three while falling to the ground--this just after sinking two free throws a few plays earlier to take the lead. Carlino's three pushed BYU to a four point lead and gave BYU a buffer they would need as Pepperdine scored two points in the closing moments.

Carlino had struggled mightily earlier in the game, committing three turnovers and shooting 1-4 in the first half. He wasn't the only one who played poorly in the first half. Davies again suffered early foul trouble, Brock Zylstra was nonexistent, and Tyler Haws shot extremely poorly and turned the ball over several times in the first half.

Dave Rose showed his displeasure by sitting all three players in favor of backups Anson Winder, Bronson Kafusi, and Corey Calvert. Neither Calvert nor Kafusi were effective, however, and BYU fell further behind, ending the first half with just 20 points--their lowest half of the season.

In the second half, however, BYU patiently clawed their way back into the game, relying on Davies, who was nearly unguardable in the post, and Haws, who for the first time in several games shot well for an extended period of time. Davies executed several drop steps to his left--a move that appeared to catch Pepperdine defenders completely off guard, and the Waves refused to double-team him for much of the second-half, leaving him free to dominate in the paint.

This game was similar to the one BYU played against Pepperdine earlier in the month in which BYU fell to a large deficit in the first half and then came back to win. However, the outcome of this game was far less certain up to the end, and the Cougars have to be relieved to get out of Malibu with a win. This was not an encouraging all-around performance for those still clinging to hope for an NCAA berth, but by earning the victory, BYU avoided suffering what would have been a damaging loss and lives to fight another day.