PROVO — On the heels of a hard-fought, two-point win at Pepperdine, the BYU basketball team faces another challenge — this time at home.
The Cougars, who are coming off of three consecutive road games and sit in third place in the West Coast Conference standings, host fourth-place Santa Clara Saturday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv).
"It has been awhile (since BYU has played at the Marriott Center)," said guard Tyler Haws, who scored a game-high 21 points against the Waves. "We're excited to get back home in front of our crowd. We've got a big game Saturday. Santa Clara's very good."
The Broncos (17-6, 5-3) are riding a five-game winning streak, including a 70-46 stomping of Portland at home Thursday night. Santa Clara has won those five games by an average margin of 21 points.
BYU is the last team to beat the Broncos, back on Jan. 12 at the Leavey Center. In that contest, the Cougars led by nine points at halftime, then watched Santa Clara battle back to take a one-point lead in the second half. But BYU went on an 18-0 run and eventually earned an 82-64 triumph.
Three Broncos average double-figures — Kevin Foster (19 ppg), Marc Trasolini (15.8) and Evan Roquemore (12.7).
Meanwhile, the Cougars (17-6, 7-2) rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit Thursday at Pepperdine to beat the Waves, 63-61. Guard Matt Carlino buried the game-winning 3-pointer with 12.1 seconds remaining.
But that was after a sluggish first half that saw BYU trail by 11 at halftime. In the second half, the Cougars came out with more emotion and aggression. And BYU shot nearly 54 percent over the final 20 minutes.
"It kind of felt like we weren't ourselves at all. We weren't really ready to play," Haws said of his team's first-half performance. "But we knew we could get back in it — just one stop at a time, and one score at a time. And that's what we did. It's tough, especially after the way we played in the first half. You have to dig down deep and try and find some energy. A lot of our guys did that."
"Coach was disappointed in our effort (in the first half)," said Carlino, who finished with 12 points, four assists, five rebounds and three steals. "We were playing on our heels instead of being the aggressor. It's an effort thing. We showed better effort in the second half."
Haws hit 9-of-18 shots from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point territory.
"The coaches called the right plays and got me in the right spots, where I'm comfortable," Haws said. "I was able to knock a few threes down."
Coach Dave Rose said Haws overcame an injury against Pepperdine.
"Ty's got that deep thigh bruise," he said. "It loosened up in the second half, I guess, because he was much better in the second half."
Rose liked the way his underclassmen, particularly a quartet of sophomores — Haws, Carlino, Anson Winder and Nate Austin — performed Thursday.
"You look out on the floor tonight in the second half, and for the majority of that half, we had four sophomores on the floor," Rose said. "They were battling, with Matty, Anson, Nate and Ty. For the guys to win a game like that should give them a lot of confidence. The young guys made big plays."
Winder came off the bench and scored six points and had three steals in 25 minutes of play.
However, Winder fouled Pepperdine's Jordan Baker on a 3-point attempt with 1.3 seconds remaining. Baker made the first two free throws to cut BYU's lead to 63-61. After Baker missed the third attempt on purpose, Wave forward Moriba De Freitas nearly tipped the ball in. Had De Freitas been successful, it would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
"We wanted them to contest that (3-point) shot," Rose explained. "We had been on our guys all night long to contest those 3's. In that situation, the foul is the one thing that gave them a chance. We'll look at Anson played so hard and so well and he gave us such a huge lift. Those are things we'll try to correct a little bit."
Senior forward Brandon Davies had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds — marking his second straight double-double.
Davies received eight stitches Wednesday after getting caught by an inadvertent elbow by teammate Ian Harward during practice. He sported a blue headband Thursday to cover up the bandage above his right eye.
"Brandon kind of carried us offensively in both halves," Rose said. "He kept us in the game, and the rest of the guys came through."
Santa Clara (17-6, 5-3) at BYU (17-6, 7-2)
7 p.m. MST
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM