LOS ANGELES — Even though it came at the expense of a team mired in a 13-game losing streak, BYU was happy to experience that winning feeling again.
The Cougars hung on to defeat last-place Loyola Marymount, 73-70, Saturday night at Gersten Pavilion to finish up the regular season on a positive note.
"One thing about LMU, they play hard. They haven't lost their spirit, that's for sure," said coach Dave Rose. "They compete right to the end. We could have finished the game smarter on our end. But there were a lot of really good signs in the game. Our guys can feel good about themselves going into the (West Coast Conference) tournament."
BYU guard Tyler Haws poured in a game-high 24 points, and hit 14-of-14 from the free-throw line. Haws, who once again took a pounding, drilled six free throws in the final 1:34 to seal the victory.
"At least he got to the free-throw line," said Rose. "I think Ty understands that's how they're going to play him. He's a great scorer, and teams are going to do everything they can to disrupt his rhythm. But at least he got rewarded for how physical it was and got to the free throw line."
BYU will open WCC tournament play Friday (9:30 p.m., ESPNU) as the No. 3 seed at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. BYU will face the winner of Thursday's matchup between No. 6 San Diego and No. 7 Pepperdine.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 21-10 overall and 10-6 in the WCC. Loyola Marymount dropped to 1-15 and 8-22.
"It feels great to win," said guard Matt Carlino, who scored 11 points to go along with seven assists and nine turnovers. "They have good players and we expected them to come out and battle."
It marked BYU's first victory since its dramatic 70-68 triumph over Utah State on Feb. 19. The Cougars were coming off two straight losses, to Saint Mary's and No. 2 Gonzaga.
LMU's Anthony Ireland scored 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Two of those 3's came in the final seven seconds.
Brandon Davies, who once again found himself in foul trouble early, scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
While BYU outshot LMU, 46 percent to 39 percent, and outrebounded the Lions, 43-27, it coughed up an alarming 19 turnovers.
"Those turnovers are probably the biggest number on the stat sheet that concerns us because it was really uncharacteristic of our team," Rose said. "We're a team that takes care of the ball. But it shows how hard LMU was trapping us and they surprised us defensively on some possessions. We turned the ball over, but we were able to overcome it, and hit some free throws."
"That's a lot of turnovers," Carlino said. "I haven't had nine turnovers in a long time. That's brutal. But it was a scrappy game. I was too careless with the ball. You never want to have that many turnovers, personally or as a team."
After LMU whittled a 15-point second half deficit down to seven with three minutes remaining, Haws buried a clutch 3-pointer to push BYU's lead back to 10, 65-55.
LMU's Nick Stover, who came off the bench to score eight points in the closing minutes, answered with a 3-pointer of his own at the 1:50 mark.
Haws then hit a pair of free throws to keep the Lions at bay. But Ireland drilled a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to close the gap to 71-67.
LMU fouled Haws again, and he delivered from the free throw line again. He hit all six free throw attempts in the final 1:34.
Ireland struck again, knocking down another 3-pointer at the buzzer.
NOTES: Former LMU stars Bo Kimble and Jeff Fryer were honored at halftime … LMU guard Chase Flint, a Davis High product, picked up a flagrant foul on Matt Carlino in the second half … BYU's Bronson Kaufusi shot an airball on a free throw in the second half.
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