It's a shame the national writers calling for NBA like rule changes in college basketball live on the East Coast. Maybe if they stayed up late and watched this they would see it's not the rules that need changing, but that teams need to run systems more like those out here on the West Coast.
The scoring started almost immediately, came from both teams and it never let up.
Kyle Collinsworth and Jared Brownridge had six points each in the first minute and a half of the game. As the half progressed Collinsworth would defer to his teammates, namely BYU's all-time leading scorer Tyler Haws (30 points tonight).
But for the Broncos it was all Brownridge. His quick six points turned into nine when he hit his third three pointer in as many tries. That three gave Santa Clara a 17-13 lead just under eight minutes into the game. During the first half neither team managed to stretch a lead beyond two possessions. Another Brownridge three at with just under three to play in the first pushed Santa Clara out to a five point lead.
That would prove to be the largest of the half This was a hotly contested game, after all. March, everybody.
Collinsworth opened the half for BYU and Tyler Haws closed it out, very nearly in buzzer beating fashion as well.
Haws scored six points over the final five minutes of the first half to help BYU briefly reclaim the lead. While a Jared Brownridge three in the final minute would swing the advantage back to Santa Clara, Corbin Kaufusi knocked down a free throw to tie it up at 36.
Skyler Halford took the ball from Brandon Clark with just seconds left in the half and dished it up to Tyler Haws, whose three at the buzzer was just millimeters long.
Not only was this game tied up at half time, but these two teams with radically different approaches on the offensive end had played a compromise half, of sorts. BYU averages 71.3 possessions per 40 minutes, Santa Clara just 61.8. They were on pace for 66 after 20 minutes of basketball.
Things just kept rolling along after halftime as if nothing had changed. The teams traded one possession leads until, eight minutes into the second half, the Cougars started overpowering the Broncos.
Corbin Kaufusi, who's impressive game is a great sign for the much maligned BYU frontcourt, muscled his way for an offensive rebound and score. Santa Clara couldn't connect on the other end. Kyle Collinsworth took advantage with a dunk. Santa Clara once again had no answer so Anson Winder knocked down a three.
Within a minute the Cougars turned their one point lead into the games largest, eight points, with 11:01 to play.
Santa Clara managed to stop the bleeding, and quiet the overwhelmingly pro-Cougar crowd. Brandon Clark had an old-school three point play and Jared Brownridge knocked down a three to cut the lead back down to four.
Fouls started piling up on the Broncos as they tried to slow the Cougars run-away aspirations. Already in the bonus half-way through the second half, BYU made a living at the free throw line.
Brandon Clark hit a three with just under six minutes to play to make it a one possession game.
The two teams stayed close for the duration, with Brandon Clark knocking down a three with a minute to play to once again cut it to two. After a Dave Rose timeout with just a sliver more than 35 seconds to play Jared Brownridge took the ball away and scored a lay-up on the break.
76-all with the shot clock turned off.
Tyler Haws did what he does best, an awkward looking pull up from the elbow and sunk it. With 2.5 to play. BYU led 78-76.
After the timeout Brandon Clark got most of the way down the floor but his heave at the buzzer fell just short and to the side.
BYU advances to face the six seed Portland Pilots in Monday's semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (spring forward everybody) which can be seen on ESPN2.