PROVO — Until BYU ran off 15 straight points about five minutes into the second half Friday night at the Marriott Center, the BYU-Hawaii Seasiders were giving the Cougars all they could handle in BYU's eventual 85-60 exhibition win.
The Seasiders led until BYU's Stephen Rogers' rare 4-point play seven minutes into the game put the Cougars up 13-10. A few minutes later the Cougars stretched that lead to 15.
But when the Seasiders' Okesene Ale hit a jumper three minutes into the second half, BYU's lead was down to five at 44-39.
Cougar fans at that point were feeling the loss of guard Jackson Emery, who sat out the final exhibition with a foot injury. They also were realizing the Seasiders are a pretty decent team. What they really noticed, however, was the game was at BYU-Hawaii's tempo.
A change in tempo is what BYU coach Dave Rose emphasized at halftime.
"He just said bring that tenacity and we're going to wear them down, because that's the kind of team we are. And that's what we started doing, beating them down the court and starting to play our game," said junior forward Noah Hartsock, who scored 10 points.
Once the Cougars picked up the defensive pressure, increased the pace down court and got good looks in transition, it became clear which team was better as BYU rattled off 15 straight to take command. The run included two jumpers from Charles Abouo, who finished with 14, and two baskets from Jimmer Fredette, who scored 18.
"I thought a couple of our guys, who didn't get off to a great start, recovered and I thought that was a really good sign," Rose said.
After the Seasiders scored a couple of hoops, the Cougars went on a 16-3 run. Brock Zylstra had a dunk and two threes in the stretch. But the exclamation points came when brothers Kyle Collinsworth and Chris Collinsworth had back-to-back dunks to push BYU's lead to 34. Two free throws added by Zysltra gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the night at 82-46.
"Defensively in the second half, I thought we were much more engaged in actually trying to challenge them, instead of just kind of following them around," Rose said.
Overall, the big difference in the game came at the free-throw line — where the Cougars outscored the Seasiders 23-6. The Cougars also outrebounded BYU-Hawaii 49-31. The stat that showed some of the impatience that BYU played with early on was the turnover department, with the Cougars turning it over 19 times. Eight of those were charging fouls. The Cougars had only four turnovers last week against Laval.
"Overall, I'm pleased. But we've got a lot of things to work on and I'm glad we have a week until we have to play again," Rose said.
The Cougars open the season next Friday when former BYU coach Steve Cleveland and his Fresno State Bulldogs visit the Marriott Center.
GAME NOTES: Rose said Emery, with a mid-foot sprain, could have played but was held out for cautionary reasons. In his place, Zylstra got his first start as a Cougar. … Cory Chase, who was teammates with Emery at Lone Peak High, started for the Seasiders and scored two points on 1 of 7 shooting with four rebounds. … Rose said the coaches will decide over the weekend whether to redshirt any players, with the only candidates being freshmen Kyle Collinsworth and Anson Winder.
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