PROVO — Early on, BYU's matchup with St. Mary’s looked more like the Gaels against Kyle Collinsworth Saturday night in the Marriott Center.
The Gaels, who before tipoff had never lost to the Cougars since BYU joined the WCC, lit up the Cougars right out of the chutes, building up a 14-point lead in 10 minutes, 26-12. The Cougars failed to get off a shot on four of their first five possessions and turned the ball over three straight times after tipoff.
But while Gael stars Brad Waldow and Stephen Holt were giving the Cougars’ fits offensively, it was Collinsworth who kept the Cougars competitive, scoring 14 first-half points on a series of drives, pull-up jump shots and free throws.
Collinsworth’s early work helped offset a slow start by the league’s leading scorer, Tyler Haws, who did not make a field goal until 5:50 remained in the first half. Collinsworth’s line in the first 20 minutes included 5-of-9 shooting, 4-of-5 free-throw shooting and six rebounds to go with his 14 points.
The Gaels led the Cougars 38-37 at halftime, but Collinsworth led a late charge right before intermission to keep the Cougars close.
SURF’S UP: The EA Sports Maui Invitational presented a customized, hand-crafted, 8-foot surfboard to BYU at the half. The Cougars will play in the 2014 event on Nov. 24-26 in a field that includes Arizona, Chaminade, Kansas State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State. ... St. Mary’s had limited opponents to 25 percent of their 3-point attempts all season, but the Cougars, who try an average of 15.2 a game, had six tries by half and made two.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.