Snakebit BYU must deal once again with major personnel loss in March
In BYU’s next game, against Gonzaga, it was clear that Hartsock’s knee was still bothering him. He limped up and down the court in the first half, but was ineffective. The Cougars came up short against the Bulldogs.
Then, for Senior Day, Hartsock did not dress or play due to his knee injury. He was relegated to the bench and cheered his teammates on in a win over Portland in the regular-season finale.
In the WCC tournament quarterfinals, Hartsock began the game against San Diego on the bench. But the Toreros pushed BYU to the limit, and the Cougars needed Hartsock, who ended up scoring 19 points, including 15 in the second half, on a gimpy knee as the Cougars won, 73-68.
Fittingly, Hartsock grabbed the final rebound of the game, with 6.5 seconds left, then was fouled. Hartsock calmly drilled both free throws to seal the win.
BYU lost in the WCC semifinals to Gonzaga, then played in the First Four of the NCAA tournament against Iona. The Cougars, a No. 14 seed, rallied from a 25-point, first-half deficit, recording the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history. BYU was eliminated by Marquette in the next round in Louisville.
Prior to last year’s WCC tournament quarterfinals against San Diego, Haws had suffered a concussion and missed several practices leading up to the tournament.
While Haws scored 20 points against the Toreros, he clearly wasn't 100 percent healthy. He played just 12 minutes in the first half and didn’t score his first basket until nearly 17 minutes into the game.
The Cougars ended up losing to USD, and BYU saw its streak of six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances come to an end.
The Cougars accepted a berth to the National Invitation Tournament, and a healthy Haws scored 37 points in leading BYU to a victory at the Marriott Center over Washington in the first round. The Cougars eventually reached the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where they lost to Baylor in the semifinals.
Despite BYU’s run of bad luck, in terms of personnel issues, in March, the Cougars have shown resilience in the face of adversity. That’s a quality they hope will serve them well again this postseason as they move on without Collinsworth in the lineup.
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