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Malibu, Calif. • Brandon Davies had a Harry Potter-like gash above his right eye that required eight stitches to close. Tyler Haws had a deep thigh bruise that limited his movement in the first half, and Matt Carlino was so tentative and mistake-prone early in the game that he was benched.
But somehow, with the game on the line, BYU's Big Three delivered clutch play after clutch play down the stretch, and the Cougars escaped cozy Firestone Fieldhouse with a 63-61 win over upset-minded Pepperdine on Thursday night.
"It was a hard-fought win, and our guys should be really proud and excited that they were able to win the game," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "I don't think there is any doubt about the fact that we hung in there."
And there's not doubt that the end was one of the crazier finishes to a BYU game in Rose's tenure.
The Cougars (17-6, 7-2 WCC) seemingly had it won when Carlino hit a fadeaway 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to beat the shot clock and give BYU a 63-59 lead.
But in one of the more boneheaded plays of the season, Anson Winder fouled Pepperdine's Jordan Baker on a 3-point attempt with 1.3 seconds left.
Baker made the first two, then intentionally missed the third try after a timeout.
Pepperdine's Stacy Davis somehow got a hand on the missed shot Haws said he might have gotten away with leaving early but his tip didn't go in and the Cougars had their comeback win.
"Kinda scary," Haws said.
Davies was 10 for 17 from the field and finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, all while sporting a headband to cover a bandage above his right eye after he took an elbow from Ian Harward in practice Wednesday.
Davies "kind of carried us in both halves long enough to keep us in it until the other guys got going," Rose said.
Carlino's big 3 will be remembered, but it was his two free throws with 1:03 left that gave the Cougars a 60-59 lead after Baker's desperation 3-point attempt to beat the shot clock found nothing but net with 1:09 left.
Carlino had 12 points, while Haws rediscovered his shooting touch in the second half and finished 9 of 18 for a game-high 21 points.
Before making the free throws, Carlino said he remembered a time in the fourth grade when he missed some free throws to cost his team the game, and didn't want to have to go away "crying" from this one as well.
At halftime, "Coach was pretty disappointed in just our effort," Carlino said.
Indeed, the Cougars were thoroughly outplayed in the first half, and trailed 31-20 at the break.
But they put together a 9-0 run early in the second half to get back in it, and the game stayed tight to the end.
Another 3-pointer from Haws, with 4:34 left, gave the Cougars a 54-50 lead heading into the home stretch.
"Our guys regrouped, and we found a way to hang in there, and we played a lot better in the second half," Rose said.
Davies had 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the first half, but the rest of the Cougars were 4 of 20 from the field. They shot 53.6 percent in the second half, making just enough plays to improve to 17-6 overall and avoid a loss that surely would have dashed their NCAA Tournament hopes.
"It feels so good to win a close one like that," Haws said. "We've been on the other end of that, and we know how it feels to lose it. So it just feels good."
O IN SHORT • Trailing by 11 points at halftime, BYU stages a comeback to topple Pepperdine 63-61 on Matt Carlino's last-minute heroics.
KEY MOMENT • Carlino made a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 12 seconds left.
KEY STAT • BYU shoots 53.6 percent in the second half after shooting 31.3 percent in the first.
MORE COVERAGE • Brandon Davies excels despite playing with a forehead bandage. > D4
BYU 63, Pepperdine 61
BYU (17-6) • Davies 10-17 0-2 20, Sharp 0-1 0-0 0, Haws 9-18 0-2 21, Carlino 3-11 5-5 12, Zylstra 0-3 0-0 0, Cusick 0-1 0-0 0, Ambrosino 0-0 0-0 0, Winder 2-4 0-0 6, Calvert 0-1 0-0 0, Austin 1-3 2-2 4, Kaufusi 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-60 7-11 63.
PEPPERDINE (10-11) • Raines 4-6 0-0 8, De Freitas 0-3 0-0 0, Jackson 3-12 2-2 8, Baker 4-10 2-5 12, Skouen 6-9 0-0 16, Davis 5-9 7-8 17, Russell 0-2 0-0 0, Mills 0-1 0-0 0, Maehlen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 11-15 61. HalftimePepperdine 31-20. 3-Point GoalsBYU 6-16 (Haws 3-6, Winder 2-3, Carlino 1-3, Davies 0-1, Zylstra 0-3), Pepperdine 6-20 (Skouen 4-7, Baker 2-4, Mills 0-1, Russell 0-1, Jackson 0-7). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBYU 36 (Davies 12), Pepperdine 33 (Raines 8). AssistsBYU 14 (Carlino 4), Pepperdine 15 (Jackson 7). Total FoulsBYU 16, Pepperdine 15. A1,824.