Not until Haws erupted for 11 straight points in the final four-plus minutes could the Cougars breathe easy, as BYU took an 84-72 win over the short-handed Waves in front of 14,012 antsy fans on Thursday night.
"We just kept battling and finished it out," Haws said, after scoring a season-high 35 points and passing the legendary Kresimir Cosic and Joe Nelson to move into 14th place on the school's all-time scoring list, with 1,515 career points.
The Cougars (10-7, 2-2) got a measure of revenge after losing 80-74 to Pepperdine (3-2, 10-7) 10 days ago in Malibu, Calif., but Haws and Collinsworth said after the game it hardly felt like that. Only five of the 10 players who started in that game on Dec. 30 started in this one.
"Well, it was quite a battle," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Interesting game, because I think both teams prepared for a rematch from a game a few days ago, and it turned out that both teams played basically completely different lineups."
Pepperdine played without Malcolm Brooks (ankle), Brendan Lane (knee) and Nikolas Skouen (illness), who combined to score 38 points at Firestone Fieldhouse against the Cougars. But the Waves turned it into a nail-biter in the second half, despite falling behind 12-0 to start the game and looking as if they would be lucky to keep the final margin under 30.
"Give credit to Pepperdine," Collinsworth said. "We would get ahead, and they would come back. That [happened] all game. They played awesome tonight, so give credit to them."
The Cougars played without Eric Mika (hip contusion), learning at shootaround some six hours before tipoff that their prized freshman couldn't go.
"Our guys were noticeably concerned that [Mika] wasn't going to play tonight," Rose said. "I think this win should give them come confidence."
The coach responded with a "not at all" when asked if he was disappointed the Cougars favored by 15 points before the injury news broke didn't run away from the depleted Waves. Pepperdine got 17 points from Stacy Davis, 14 from Lamond Murray Jr. and 12 from Jeremy Major, but was outrebounded 40-27.
Pepperdine never led, but when seldom-used freshman guard Jeff Van Dyke made his fifth 3-pointer of the season with 5:05 remaining, the Waves had cut a nine-point BYU lead to two.
Coach Marty Wilson called timeout after Van Dyke's shot, but it enabled the Cougars to regroup offensively and Rose to design a play in the huddle.
Halford (18 points) got free and hit a 12-footer along the base line, and then Haws went crazy, making back-to-back-to-back treys and then a field goal for good measure to push the lead to 75-62 with two minutes left.
Haws, Matt Carlino (10 points) and Halford made nine straight free throws to keep the Waves from getting closer.
"Great execution in a tough spot," Rose said.