Cusick hits game-winner to top Utah State

(Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)

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PROVO, Utah – With a last-second put-back shot by Craig Cusick, the BYU men’s basketball team secured a 70-68 victory over Utah State at the Marriott Center on Tuesday night.

After the Cougars held an 11-point lead to start the second half, the Aggies (18-7, 9-5 WAC) fought back to tie the game with 57 seconds remaining. With BYU in posession for the final seconds, a missed shot attempt bounced off the rim but Cusick was there to grab the rebound and sink the game-winning shot for the Cougars with 0.2 seconds on the clock (20-8, 9-4 WCC).

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Tyler Haws led all scorers with 27 points while shooting 12 of 14 from the line. Joining Haws in double figures were Brandon Davies and Brock Zylstra, each with 10. Davies was a perfect 6 of 6 from the free throw line and also grabbed four boards.

Zylstra brought the home crowd to its feet with a dunk at the start of the game, giving the Cougars a 9-7 lead just over four minute into the game. Jarred Shaw scored the first seven points for the Aggies, including a game-opening breakaway dunk.

Utah State knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to take its first lead, 14-13, since the initial minute of the game. Matt Carlino matched the shot and added another to put the Cougars back on top with 10:21 remaining in the first half.

Carlino’s basket kicked off a 10-1 BYU run to extend the Cougars’ lead to 25-15 with under eight minutes to play in the half. Utah State ended the run with its first basket in three minutes.

A 3-pointer and trip to the charity stripe helped the Aggies cut the margin to five with 4:38 on the clock but it would be the closest Utah State came the rest of the half. BYU and Utah State exchanged buckets over the next few minutes while the Cougars stayed ahead. BYU led 41-32 at the half.

After scoring 17 points before the break, Haws kicked off the second half with a jumper for a double-digit BYU lead. The teams traded scores until the Aggies’ Ben Clifford sparked eight unanswered points that included four free throws, cutting BYU’s lead to two at 50-48 with 11:38 remaining.

Haws hit a pair of corner jump shots to shut down the run and give life to the Cougars. With just under 10 minutes on the clock, two Carlino free throws pushed BYU back up by seven.

A steal by Zylstra led to a driving layup by Carlino for the 60-51 lead but Utah State drained a three to answer the 8-2 Cougar run. A second banked shot moved the Aggies within four with 6:51 on the clock.

Driving to the basket at the four-minute-mark, Utah State’s Spencer Butterfield moved the score to 64-62 but Davies’ hit four free throws in the next two minutes to move the mark back up to five.

With 57 seconds to play, the Aggies sunk a trey and two free throws to tie the contest at 68.  Cusick went on to win the game, 70-68.

The Cougars next travel to Saint Mary’s on Feb. 21 for an 8 p.m. PST tipoff. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.

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