PROVO — Big-time players step up when it matters most and, through six games this season, Tyler Haws has proven to be that type of player for the BYU Cougars. The sophomore guard led a 14-1 game-ending run that lifted BYU to an 87-75 victory over previously undefeated Cal State Northridge Saturday night at the Marriott Center.
Haws made three field goals and hit on all four free-throw attempts during the game’s final three minutes, doing his best work from midrange. He finished with a career-high 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 12-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.
“It’s probably an understatement, but Ty is a winner,” coach Dave Rose said. “He’s always been a winner and he’s extremely confident in his ability to make plays. What I’m really happy (about) is that our team is beginning to understand that and trust in his ability to make big plays for us.”
The game-ending 14-1 run was in response to an 8-0 run from the Matadors that gave them a 74-73 lead with 3:01 remaining. From that point on Haws did his thing on the offensive end while everyone stepped up defensively.
Josh Sharp and Brandon Davies blocked and altered shots inside while Brock Zylstra, Haws and Craig Cusick played shutdown defense on the perimeter.
“I thought we did a much better job late in the game controlling their basket penetration,” Rose said. “They were taking (the ball) between defenders and allowing our post guys to clean up the mess and I thought our guards did a much better job of closing that space down.”
Saturday's game was tight throughout with Northridge holding a slim over most of the first half before BYU closed out with a 17-8 run to go into the locker room up 46-40. The Matadors immediately closed the gap at the start of the second half and remained close or in the lead until the final three minutes.
Standout guard Stephan Hicks paced the Matadors with a team-high 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. Stephen Maxwell contributed 17 points and Josh Greene added 13.
Northridge played with confidence and fire throughout and gave BYU its biggest test in the Marriott Center so far this season.
“When you prepare for a team that is (undefeated) you realize that team has a great will to win,” Rose said. “You have to figure out a way to break that and it didn’t come easy. These guys have a unique style that makes them really dangerous and I was really proud of how our guys continued to attack in tough situations.”
The sellout crowd of 20,900 also played a huge role, according to Rose and the players. Presumably energized by the presence of top recruit Jabari Parker, the crowd was loud and into it for the duration.
“I think it was the energy of the crowd (that helped us) really get after it,” Zylstra said. “Down the stretch we had to make some plays and get some stops. Defensively we (were) all into it together.”
Zylstra hit two big 3-pointers late to help put away the Matadors and ended with 14 points, five assists and seven rebounds. Matt Carlino didn’t start, but stepped up big dishing out six assists and having just a single turnover in 20 minutes of play. Rose started Cusick in place of Carlino and Agustin Ambrosino in place of Sharp, and was pleased with the effort of both players off the bench.
“We’re trying to find a little more depth in our roster and I wanted to see how it would work if we started some different guys,” Rose said. “I thought both Matt (Carlino) and Josh (Sharp) responded very well and it’s a tough situation. Everyone wants to start, but if we can grow as a group and expand our depth then that’s what we need to do right now.”
With the win BYU moves to 4-2 on the year and will next take on Montana this Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
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