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UMass at BYU final: Cougars outlast Minutemen 77-71 in OT

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

BYU and UMass squared off this afternoon in a basketball game featuring similar styles, strengths, and weaknesses. With all the similarities it shouldn't come as a big surprise that the game went to overtime in Provo, but the Cougars came up with enough big plays to pull out the victory in OT.

BYU started strong, but UMass caught up and then pulled ahead 16-9. Anson Winder single-handedly pulled BYU back into it and tied it up at 16 all. Both teams played each other even to another tie at 24 and then again at 30 all.  BYU earned a two-point lead going into the half thanks to free throws from Skyler Halford. Both teams struggled shooting in the first half, with the Cougars shooting 38.2 percent from the field and UMass shooting 37 percent.

BYU started the second half with two turnovers in row, but they quickly recovered and opened up a 41-36 lead with 15:22 remaining in the game. Slowly the game turned into a drag it out battle with every possession turning counting. With one minute remaining and the Cougars holding a 62-61 lead, the Minutemen missed a shot that Kyle Collinsworth rebounded. Chase Fischer slashed to the basket on the ensuing possession, but was rejected on a short jumper. With only seconds remaining and while clinging to a one point lead, UMass earned a foul and found themselves in the classic win, lose, or tie scenario at the charity stripe. The Minutemen were able to convert one which sent the game into OT.

For the first two minutes of overtime, it appeared that UMass would run away with the game as they made several shots in rapid succession. But Collinsworth hit a runner in the lane and Corbin Kaufusi threw down a two-handed dunk to pull ahead of the Minutemen. Winder and Halford finished the game with some great free throw shooting to ice the game.

In a rare game, Tyler Haws, the nation's second leading scorer, finished with only four points. Haws is recovering from an ankle injury he suffered at Weber State on December 13th.  He was held scoreless during the first half and made his first bucket with 18:51 remaining in the second half. Kaufusi and Frank Bartley rose to the occasion and used their athleticism to defend a tough and nimble Minutemen squad.

Anson Winder led all scorers with a career high 25 points. With Haws struggling, Winder's play was crucial to the Cougar victory. Kyle Collinsworth made his usual contributions to the stat sheet, scoring 18 points and collecting 15 boards in 39 minutes played.

Nate Austin did not play due to injury.