San Francisco • A lot of folks have left their hearts in this beautiful city in Northern California. Saturday night, the BYU Cougars left their defense in Provo, and their best inside player on the bench most of the time, thanks to game-long foul problems.
But offense from their guards bridged the gap in the nick of time, despite some horrid free-throw shooting in crunch time, and the result was a gutty 80-76 win for BYU over the hot-shooting San Francisco Dons in front of a sparse but enthusiastic crowd at War Memorial Gymnasium.
BYU improved to 2-0 in West Coast Conference play with the win, 12-4 overall; USF fell to 0-2 and 7-8.
Last year, the Cougars made just enough plays to eke out an 85-84 win here, and did the same thing again despite playing most of the game without Brandon Davies, who fouled out with just six points.
Craig Cusick's three-pointer with 1:50 remaining gave the Cougars a 77-71 lead, but BYU had to hold on from there as Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino missed big free throws in the final 40 seconds.
The Dons had a chance to tie it in the last 10 seconds, but Cody Doolin's layup rolled off and Carlino hit a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds left to seal it.
Haws and Carlino scored 22 points apiece for BYU; Doolin and Cole Dickerson also had 22 points each for the Dons.