These two teams last met in Portland on January 23rd the Pilots won in triple overtime. Tonight in Provo was a lot different, and the differences were clear from the get go. Both teams' starting line ups were different this time than in the first meeting.
BYU on the other hand has been successfully mixing up the starters all season long, but especially over the past couple of games. Usual starters Nate Austin, Kyle Collinsworth and Tyler Haws were joined by Anson Winder and Luke Worthington. Winder started the Cougars' last game, against Gonzaga, but Worthington had not made a start before tonight.
The Pilots got the first points, and held a 5-2 lead just over a minute into the game, but the Cougars were all over them after that.
Winder and Worthington made the most of their starts, combining for seven of BYU's twelve points at the first media timeout. Especially impressive, for the second straight game, was Anson Winder. He finished with 19 points on 7-8 shooting from the field.
A three minute scoring drought spanning the second media timeout put the Pilots in a double-digit hole. Ryan Nicholas and Thomas van der Mars cut the lead to eight at 8:49, but the Cougars would quickly and permanently push the lead back to double figures.
Specifically, Matt Carlino would push the lead back to double figures.
The junior point guard, who used to start but now plays starter's minutes as a reserve, hit three consecutive three pointers over a minute and a half. During that span the Pilots did not score.
Carlino hit eight three pointers in the game en route to a career high 30 points.
After that barrage from Carlino, the Pilots tried to climb back into it. While they failed to get within ten points, they did manage to shoot better and play at the pace of the Cougars.
For the first five minutes of the second half, the game played out like it had at the end of the first. However, at the 15:00 mark, BYU went on a 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 25 points. It would hover between 25 and 16 points for the rest of the game.
All 12 points scored during that BYU run came from Carlino and Winder. Carlino even got to show off his hops with a transition dunk.
Bobby Sharp and Thomas van der Mars had huge games against BYU back in January, but were too little, too late tonight. Sharp scored nine of his 16 points in the second half and van der Mars, seven of his eleven.
Ryan Nicholas had another big game, the senior posted a team high 17 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Portland, however, was unable to overcome the loss of two starters.
With the win, BYU regains control of second place in the standings. San Francisco briefly moved into a tie with the Cougars, by virtue of winning a game earlier today. BYU now holds a half-game lead over San Francisco, as well as the tie breaker since the Cougars swept the Dons this season.
The Cougars are now 20-10 and have reached the 20 wins each season since a nine win campaign in 2004-05.
Portland is 7-9 in WCC play, good for sixth place in the standings. One game separates them from both fifth place and seventh place. Teams one through six receive a bye in the upcoming WCC Tournament.
Oh yeah and it would have been senior night for the Cougars, but there are no seniors on the BYU roster. This team is set for the future.
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