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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
BYU's #20 Anson Winder, right, defends CSUSM's #5 Tim Steed as BYU plays Cal State San Marcos Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 in the Marriott Center in Provo. BYU won 79-51.

PROVO Brigham Young University used a second-half scoring explosion to beat Cal State San Marcos, 79-51, Tuesday night at the Marriott Center in a battle of Cougars.

In its final tuneup before entering West Coast Conference play at St. Marys on Thursday at 8 p.m., BYU (11-3) won its third in a row and seventh in the last eight games.

Center Brandon Davies, who scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, said the team is concerned only with taking care of what is in front of them.

Watching what the other teams in the conference are doing is part of their scouting report, he said. But as players, we dont think about that. Were pretty focused on the task at hand.

After the visiting Cougars (6-8) an independent NAIA in its first year of mens basketball scored eight of the second halfs first 11 points to pull to within 35-29, the home Cougars went on a run of their own.

Midway through the second half, BYU delivered a knockout punch in the form of a 19-2 scoring spurt. Point guard Matt Carlino fueled a majority of it, putting in 11 points during the stretch.

We were only up by a few points, but I felt like we should have been up by a lot more so I came in and pushed hard, he said.

Carlino who had just three points at the half finished the game with 19. He was limited to 10 first-half minutes, due to a pair of quick early fouls.

Most of the game was played under the supervision of only two officials, after referee Gregory Nixon went down with a knee injury at the 8:12 mark of the first half. Nixon had to be helped off the court and didnt return.

Early on, BYU successfully established post dominance. Noah Hartsock, who led all scorers with 20 points, and Brandon Davies scored 10 of the teams first 14 points, and had a blocked shot apiece.

I thought we were all playing together and getting open shots. We were making plays, Davies said. We have a lot of confidence in our guys that well get shots.

The inside play was a result of capitalizing on what was working, BYU head coach Dave Rose explained.

Our guys really look to getting the ball to our post players and they played well for us tonight, he said.

That opened up holes in San Marcos defensive scheme, and near the end of the first half, BYU took advantage, as Carlino and Brock Zylstra each hit from 3-point range.

After getting only four points from its bench players in the previous game against UC Santa Barbara, BYUs reserves contributed 20 points against CSUSM.

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That was more a result of a decision by our coaching staff, Rose said. The zone defense (UC Santa Barbara) was playing was something our bench players hadnt really seen, so we felt more comfortable with our experienced players. But tonight our bench guys were able to get more playing time.

Damarcus Harrison contributed eight points, while Charles Abouo had five rebounds and four assists.

Cal State San Marcos was led by Tim Steeds 11 points. Daniel Ndiaye finished with 10 points, but was held to only two points in the second half. Jamel McGuire had eight points and eight rebounds, and Daniel Redmon dished out six assists.

Chris Peterson, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost 20 years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at chrispeterson7@msn.com.