Worthington an unsung hero in BYU's win over Saint Mary's

Published: Monday, Feb. 3 2014 7:50 p.m. MST

BYU's Luke Worthington reacts to winning a men's basketball game against Saint Mary's at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. BYU won 84-71.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

PROVO — One of the unsung heroes of BYU’s victory last weekend over Saint Mary’s was freshman forward Luke Worthington.

Worthington did not score a point or record a rebound. He went 0 for 1 from the field, had a turnover, and he fouled out in 10 minutes.

But the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Worthington made an impact. He entered the game to spell Eric Mika and Nate Austin, who both picked up two personal fouls in the first half, and to help defend Gael star Brad Waldow.

Worthington’s 10 minutes on the floor were “great minutes,” said coach Dave Rose. “The 10 minutes he gave us helped us get through what is a very difficult matchup. His five fouls really helped our team and saved Nate and Eric, so we could have them on the floor in the second half.”

It marked just the fourth time this season Worthington had played more than 10 minutes in any game.

His brief stint in the game seemed to frustrate Waldow, who scored a team-high 25 points against the Cougars.

“It was like a Bronson effort,” said guard Tyler Haws, comparing Worthington’s performance to that of football player Bronson Kaufusi, who joined BYU’s basketball team last year to provide depth and a physical presence in the post.

“If you can handle the physicality of Waldow, you’re doing something right,” Haws said.

Worthington gave the Cougars a spark at a time when they needed it. BYU trailed Saint Mary’s by as many as 14 in the first half.

“Anytime you can get some energy from the bench, it’s going to help everyone on the floor,” Haws said. “Luke was looking forward to the challenge and battling with Waldow. … Our guys did a great job of making him hit tough shots. He did get some easy stuff in the beginning, but we did go to a double team and tried to make it uncomfortable for him. I thought our big guys did a good job.”

IMPROVEMENT FROM THE LINE: BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth entered Saturday’s game shooting just 59 percent from the free-throw line.

Against Saint Mary’s, Collinsworth hit 8 of 10 free throws.

Not that he was satisified with that effort.

“I had a goal to make 10 tonight, so I’m kind of bummed about that,” he said. “But we’re working hard on it to get better and better.”

Rose said Collinsworth has been focused on becoming a better free-throw shooter.

“Kyle has spent a great deal of time at it. He deserves to see the positive results because of the time that he’s put in. He’s done a lot to improve that part of his game. When you go 8 for 10 from the free-throw line, that makes you so much more aggressive with the ball in your hands going to the basket because you know that if you create contact and get you fouled, you’re going to come up with points. Hopefully, he continues to improve and continue that same work ethic in improvement with his free throws.”

Collinsworth and Haws combined to go 19 of 22 from the free-throw line Saturday.

HAWS NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Haws was named the Player of the Week by the West Coast Conference.

Haws averaged 35.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals in leading the Cougars to wins over Pacific and Saint Mary’s. He shot 59.5 percent (22 of 37) from the field, 66.7 percent (6 of 9) from three and 91.3 percent (21 of 23) from the free-throw line.

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