GAME NOTES: Coming off a very difficult home loss earlier this week, the BYU Cougars try to turn it around on Saturday night as they take on the San Diego Toreros in West Coast Conference action at the Marriott Center in Provo.
On Wednesday night, the Cougars was caught in a tight battle with Saint Mary's-CA at home and while it appeared the hosts were on their way to a thrilling victory thanks to a jumper from the right side by Tyler Haws with just 2.5 seconds remaining, the defense for BYU let the Gaels off the hook as it permitted Matthew Dellavedova to knock down a game-winning 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The loss for the Cougars was their first in conference play and not only snapped a six-game win streak overall, it also halted the squad's run at home in the Marriott Center as well.
As for the Toreros, they are currently tied with Gonzaga for first place in the league standings at 4-0, although the Bulldogs are a near-perfect 17-1 overall but USD just 11-8 thus far. On Wednesday night, San Diego picked up its fifth straight win with a 78-70 decision over Loyola Marymount at home.
The Cougars have won all five previous meetings between these two squads, including a matchup in the 2012 WCC Tournament, 73-68.
The Toreros started out a big sluggish against LMU earlier this week, shooting just 39.4 percent from the floor, but the team turned it around in the second half with 54.2 percent accuracy as they pulled away for the win at Jenny Craig Pavilion. Johnny Dee scored a team-best 15 points, Chris Anderson accounted for 14 points, six rebounds and four steals, while John Sinis and Cameron Miles tacked on 12 and 11 points, respectively. In conference play the Toreros have dialed up the pressure at the defensive end of the floor, holding the competition to just 59.0 ppg, resulting from a woeful 24.2 percent shooting behind the 3-point line. Dee (14.3 ppg) and Anderson (10.0 ppg) have been leading the offense in those outing, but while the latter has handed out 17 assists in four bouts, he's also turned it over 14 times and that's been a huge reason for the group suffering 14 miscues per contest in WCC play.
One of the most exciting players in the WCC, Haws came to the rescue for the Cougars on Wednesday night once against as he converted a late jumper to give the hosts a 69-67 advantage, but it simply didn't stand up. Haws made good on 8-of-16 shots from the floor and all but one of his eight free-throw attempts as he finished with 23 points, followed by Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies with 16 and 12 points, respectively. One of the more unusual stats from the Cougars, who were beaten on the glass by a 36-29 margin, is that Davies fouled out before pulling down a single rebound. Davies, who is second on the team in scoring with 18.1 ppg, is the top rebounder for the group with 7.3 rpg, so for him to come up empty versus SMC is very puzzling. Haws (21.4 ppg) continues to be one of the nation's top scorers, shooting not just 40.9 percent from beyond the arc but also a staggering 91.2 percent at the charity stripe.
Assuming Davies got a wake-up call regarding his lack of effort on the glass, expect he and Haws to carry the load once again for the Cougars as they shoot for the win over San Diego.
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