LAS VEGAS – Five players scored in double-figures as BYU topped Santa Clara 72-60 Saturday at the Orleans Arena to advance to the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Championships.
“I really believe that our execution late in this game on both ends, winning possessions on the offensive and defensive ends allowed us to win the game," head coach Dave Rose said. "We went for a four or five minute period where we couldn’t make a free throw. We’ve been in that position before and haven’t finished the game like we finished it today and that’s what makes me happy."
Kyle Collinsworth scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists to lead the Cougars while Nick Emery led the scoring effort with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, to go along with three rebounds and two steals. Chase Fischer had 14 points and Zac Seljaas shot 3 of 6 from behind the arc on his way to 12 points. Kyle Davis chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds.
BYU shot 44 percent in the game and converted 20 free throws to SCU’s 36 percent from the floor and 13 made free throws.
The Cougars led for all but 41 seconds of the game, but Santa Clara kept the margin close throughout most of the second half.
The Broncos made it a one-point game at the 14:10 mark, 42-41, on a three as they outscored BYU 7-0 over a 1:14 stretch.
Collinsworth converted one free throw and Emery cashed in for four from the charity stripe to halt the run, extending BYU’s lead to 47-41 with 13:01 left.
Santa Clara cut the margin again to 49-46 before Collinsworth converted a layup with 9:58 on the clock for the 51-46 lead. After scoring five straight points, the Broncos came within two, 53-51, at the 7:25 media timeout.
A Santa Clara 3-pointer with 6:19 left cut the score to 55-54, but an 8-0 run for the Cougars over the next 2:51 gave them the lift they needed to lock down the game.
Davis hit a free throw to start the run, and Collinsworth dished to Davis for a 58-54 lead two possessions later. Five straight points by Fischer that included his second three and a baseline drive on the left side for a layup at the 3:12 mark made it 63-54.
SCU cut it to 65-59 with 1:39 on the clock before seven BYU free throws closed out the game.
The Cougars held a 35-25 lead at halftime after leading by as much as 17 points.
In the first half, SCU shot 33 percent overall and 1 of 10 from three, while BYU shot 41 percent with 6 of 14 from three and forced nine turnovers. Nick Emery led BYU with 11 points at the break.
Emery sparked a 16-2 run with a transition 3-pointer at the 11:34 mark. Following a timeout, Emery knocked down a three on an inbounds pass before Zac Seljaas added a three of his own. A putback layup by Davis had the Cougars up 21-7, forcing the Broncos to take a timeout with 9:15 to play in the first.
BYU continued its run, leading 26-9 with 7:00 left before Santa Clara climbed back in the game.
SCU narrowed the gap to 29-23 with 1:07 to play in the first half while BYU missed seven shots in a row. Fischer’s timely first 3-pointer of the game broke the cold streak. Seljaas buried his second three of the game on an inbounds pass from Collinsworth with one second left for the 10-point Cougar lead.
BYU will play Monday in the semifinals against the winner between Portland and Gonzaga. The game will be televised live on ESPN or ESPN2 at 6 or 8:30 p.m. PT. Fans can follow the action live on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.