SALT LAKE CITY — Once again, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose had to look down his bench for someone to rescue his offensively struggling Cougars.
Against Hawaii on Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena he found a couple of heroes in seldom-used sophomore transfer Stephen Rogers and emerging senior Logan Magnusson.
In holding off the Rainbow Warriors 78-57 in a physical and scrappy contest, the No. 21 Cougars survived a foul-plagued first half thanks mainly to the contributions of both reserves.
"Every time you get guys to go in there and they feel comfortable and get confidence and make winning plays for your team, that makes you deeper and helps you down the road," Rose said.
Actually, it came in handy for the Cougars on Saturday. Rogers' where's-that-been hot shooting was especially vital in helping the Cougars widen the gap from the cold-shooting Rainbows late in the first half. In a nine-minute span he hit 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range and finished the first-half with 11 of his career-high 13 points on 4 of 6 overall shooting. He entered the game 0 for 7 from 3-point range.
"We have some really good guards in Jimmer (Fredette) and Jackson (Emery) who are able to penetrate and dish, and I was there for the kick-outs and luckily I was able to knock down some shots tonight," Rogers said.
Magnusson was equally effective offensively, making 4 of 5 shots in scoring nine first-half points en route to a career-high 11, but he also contributed three critical defensive rebounds late in the first half when starting front-line players Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies were on the bench in foul trouble. Davies played only five minutes in the opening half and Hartsock only 11.
"The bottom line is you have to be really aggressive defensively to be good, and sometimes you're going to get an officiating crew that's going to call some quick fouls on you and you have to be able to overcome it," Rose said.
Besides the fouls that were troubling BYU's bigs, the Rainbows also employed a diamond-and-one defense on Fredette that seemed to frustrate the Cougars offensively. The preseason All-American did have eight hard-earned points at the half, and even with Fredette third in line in scoring at the break the Cougars still led by 16.
"When they're keying on Jackson and Jimmer we've got to be able to deliver," Magnusson said. "It was nice that Steve and I could come in and knock down those open shots."
It looked like the Cougars (8-0) were going to run the Rainbows (5-2) back to the Islands early in jumping out to a 10-2 lead. But when Davies went to the bench with two quick fouls and Hartsock joined him a few minutes later after picking up his third, the Cougars played the final eight minutes of the half without a true 5 or 4 on the floor.
Two jumpers from Magnusson, however, kept the Cougars on top 21-15. Then, clinging to a 23-19 lead, Rogers came in and drilled his first 3-point shot of the season. He then hit a baseline jumper to stretch BYU's lead to 28-19.
"I just wanted to come off the bench and contribute as much as I could," Rogers said.
Late in the half, when Rogers hit two more threes and Magnusson snuck inside for a hoop, the Cougars led by 12. Fredette widened that lead to 43-27 at the intermission with back-to-back spinning moves in the paint.
"The more that the other guys become involved in the offense the more difficult it will be to game plan for us. I think tonight we did a really good job of spreading the ball around and had different guys score baskets," Rose said.
The Cougars used a little of the same mixture in the second half to fight off Hawaii's charge. After the Rainbows cut the lead to 12, Fredette (who had a game-high 16) pushed the Cougars lead up to 57-40 with two tough buckets in close.
The Cougars really took control of the game for good with defense, holding Hawaii to only two baskets during an eight-minute span midway through the second half. The Rainbows shot only 30 percent on the day and were only 1 of 13 from 3-point range. Prior to Saturday they were shooting more than 50 percent from the floor.
"We did a good job tonight of making them take tough shots," Magnusson said.
The Cougars ended any chance of a Hawaii comeback when Nick Martineau hit a jumper and Emery a three to push the margin to 19. Dunks by Davies and Kyle Collinsworth moved the lead to 73-50.
"We couldn't hit shots so we never got into the flow offensively," Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said. "But give credit to BYU. They're really hard to match-up with because they've got five guys out there who can score and they play really well together."
Playing a little thin on the front line, the Cougars were outrebounded by Hawaii 43-33.
"We got a lot of good execution defensively but we didn't finish the possession with a rebound and that caused us not to be able to get out in transition like we like to go," Rose said.27 comments on this story
GAME NOTES: The sprained ankle suffered by forward Chris Collinsworth is more severe than originally diagnosed, and the sophomore likely won't see action again before Christmas. ... Of Hartsock's team-high seven rebounds, six came in the first eight minutes ... For the first time this season Fredette failed to make a 3-point shot. ... The Cougars leave for New York on Monday to play Vermont at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Wednesday, and return to Utah for another game next Saturday at EnergySolutions against Arizona ... Attendance was 13,312.