Coming off a tough loss to Gonzaga the BYU Cougars were ready to notch their first conference win of the season. On the other hand, the Portland Pilots were looking to continue their best start in years, and a 2-0 conference road record. With little, if any, preparation time for the Cougars after a Saturday game, Dave Rose opted to go with a small line up that featured four guards. Anson Winder made his first start of the season in place of Isaac Neilson, with the hope that the Cougars would avoid yet another slow start.
By all appearances the Cougars looked to start out strong as Winder caused a turnover on the Pilots first trip down the floor, followed by a Tyler Haws three-pointer to start it for the Cougars. Winder would also get into the offense early as the Cougars took a 10-6 lead on a Winder three, but it would be the only baskets they saw for a stretch. After making his first Haws missed his next three and soon became frustrated as with his slow start. Portland went on a 9-0 run that was accompanied by eight straight missed shots by the Cougars. Haws would finally break the drought with a bucket and one, followed by a Chase Fischer three pointer to put the Cougars up 16-15. The Cougars went on a 10-0 run building a 20-15 lead, before the Pilots pulled back to within one. BYU would again slowly build up its lead to nine after another Fischer three pointer, but only took a 43-37 lead into the locker room.
The Cougars started off hot in the second half as Kyle Collinsworth drove in for a bucket and a free throw, followed by a Haws' lay-up that gave the Cougars their first double digit lead at 48-37. After the teams traded buckets, the Pilots pushed the Cougars with a 6-0 run, but by the first media time-out the Cougars had built their lead back up to 10. It appeared that the Pilots were losing their legs at this point as the lead suddenly ballooned to 18, 70-52, after two Skyler Halford three-point baskets. The Cougars would push the lead to 22 after a 22-4 run before a mini-run by the Pilots forced the Cougars to call a time out with a 76-60 lead. The Cougars would again push the lead to 20, but the Pilots would not go away as they went on another run to draw within 12 at 82-70. As the intensity picked up the Pilots relied on Bobby Sharp to hit key three pointers down the stretch and found themselves within nine at 89-90. With two minutes to play, the game became a test of free throws as the Pilots began to foul in hopes of prolonging the game. The strategy seemed to work as Haws and Corbin Kaufusi missed the front ends of their one-and-ones, giving Portland hope of a comeback. Up by seven it was once again Collinsworth, who answered the bell, hitting two key free throws to put the Cougars back up by nine and the Pilots couldn't pull any closer than seven.
The Cougars would share the wealth throughout the game as five players scored in double digits led by Haws 24. Winder added 22, Collinsworth added 21, Fischer added 16, and Halford added 12. Portland was led by a game high 30 from Alec Wintering. One of the keys to the game was the aggresive play by the Cougars as they outscored the Pilots 44-22 in the paint, but only two of those points came from Cougar big men.
BYU will next travel to Santa Clara for a New Year's Day game at 3 pm MST on BYUtv.