PROVO — Although BYU led by just one point, 47-46, at halftime in a game that featured fouls galore and points aplenty, the Cougars had the Santa Clara Broncos right where they wanted them.
In a run-and-gun shootout.
In the second half, BYU continued to put its foot on the accelerator and raced past the Broncos, 96-79, before a crowd of 17,228 at the Marriott Center on Saturday night.
Santa Clara just couldn't keep up with the Cougars' high-tempo pace.
"When we can score that many points," said guard Matt Carlino, "it's going to be a good night."
And it was a very good night for Carlino, who scored a season-high 28 points, including three 3-pointers, and dished out six assists and had two steals.
Carlino said that there wasn't much difference between the first half and second half.
"We're really well-conditioned," Carlino explained. "We keep doing our stuff. That can wear on a team after a while."
Carlino celebrated his stellar performance by receiving a few stitches above his right eye after the game. In the first half, Carlino got hit in the head and left the floor for a while. When he returned, he was wearing a bandage over his eye.
Meanwhile, guard Tyler Haws finished with 24 points and five assists and forward Brandon Davies chipped in 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds — marking his third straight double-double.
"Everyone was contributing. Matt caught fire," said Davies, who also received stitches above his right eye earlier in the week after taking an elbow at practice. "When guys are hitting shots, we're good at feeding their fire and helping them keep things going. We're all unselfish guys. That's why we play so well together. We're willing to give up shots for someone who's feeling it. Matt did a good job of that tonight."
BYU improved to 18-6 overall and 8-2 in the West Coast Conference. Santa Clara fell to 17-7 and 5-4. The Cougars snapped the Broncos' five-game winning streak.
Carlino nailed the game-winning 3-pointer in last Thursday's victory at Pepperdine and has enjoyed the best stretch of his career over the past month.
BYU coach Dave Rose loved what he saw from Carlino on Saturday.
"Matt is showing progress with the experience. That's really important," Rose said. "He's handled it really well. He's handled the ups and he's handled the times when he hasn't played as effective as he wanted to. Right now, he's in a nice little spot. Our guys have learned how to play with him and appreciate what he does. He threw some passes tonight that were right on the money. Besides the shots he made, I thought his floor game was terrific."
The Cougars shot 58 percent for the game, outscored the Broncos in the paint, 50-30, and had a 20-4 advantage in fast break points.
"The way we finished the second half, our tempo was unbelievable," Davies said. "Matt got us going and we were all flying up and down the floor trying to catch him. That's the pace we like to play at. When we're playing at that pace, it puts teams on their heels. They're trying to slow things down."
In the first half, Santa Clara drilled 7 of 12 3-pointers, but in the second half, the Broncos made only 2 of 12.
"We just knew we had to step things up defensively," Davies said. "In the first half, they hit a lot of open 3s. They have great shooters. Those three guards are among the best in our conference. It's tough to get them stopped. We just emphasized it a little more in the second half and we were able to get stops."
The key to executing a high-tempo offense?
"Getting stops," Carlino said. "When we get stops, it's a lot easier to run because we catch a defense off-guard. When we're not getting stops, they can set up their defense. That's the biggest thing."
BYU led 54-53 with 16:30 left in the game when the Cougars went on a 14-1 run that put them up, 68-54. The stretch included 3-pointers by Carlino and Brock Zylstra. BYU led by as many as 23 late in the game.
Five Broncos scored in double figures: Kevin Foster (18), Marc Trasolini (15), Evan Roquemore (14), Raymond Cowels (13) and Brandon Clark (11). Foster and Cowels each connected on three 3-pointers.
"They're all capable shooters," Davies said. "They can knock them down all game long."
"Those guards are so hard to contain," Rose said. "They spread the floor. They can drive it. They can shoot it."
But the Broncos were no match for the Cougars in the second half.
BYU travels to San Diego on Thursday (8 p.m. MST, BYUtv).
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