BYU basketball: Cougars 'in a good place' heading into conference tourney, Haws says

BYU basketball • Team will face either Pepperdine or San Diego on Friday.
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Provo • In addition to wrapping up the West Coast Conference scoring title, both for all games (20.9 ppg.) and for conference games (20.6 ppg.), Tyler Haws moved into 43rd place on BYU's career scoring list Saturday night in the Cougars' 70-67 victory over Loyola Marymount.

Brandon Davies moved into 10th place on the school's career rebounds list with 794, and Matt Carlino moved into 21st place for career assists, his seven against the Lions giving him 252 in less than two seasons.

Those achievements and milestones from BYU's so-called Big Three were great, and all, but what the Cougars were really looking for in the regular-season finale was momentum and confidence heading into this week's West Coast Conference tournament.

Whether they accomplished that is debatable, considering that the Cougars led by 15 points with less than six minutes remaining and won by just three.

"It is a cool thing to be the scoring leader, but I am more concerned about our team and doing what I can to help us get better," Haws said. "We're ready for a run in the tournament; we're in a good place. ... We have a few things to work on after tonight. We need to take care of the ball better, especially down the stretch."

The tournament begins Wednesday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas with eighth-seeded Portland taking on ninth-seeded LMU in a first-round game. Having secured the third seed for the second straight year, the Cougars (21-10) will play in Friday's late quarterfinal game (9:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU) against the winner of Thursday's contest pitting No. 6 San Diego (14-17) and No. 7 Pepperdine (12-17)

The Cougars swept the Waves, winning 76-51 in Provo and 63-61 in Malibu, but split with the Toreros, winning 74-57 in Provo but losing 74-68 less than three weeks later in San Diego.

The winner of Friday's late quarterfinal plays No. 2 seed Saint Mary's (26-5) on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. MST.

Haws and LMU's Anthony Ireland both scored 24 points in the game at Gersten Pavilion, giving Haws 329 points in league games and Ireland 322. The Cougars' sophomore star was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.

"We had to hit some big free throws tonight to stay ahead," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We made some mistakes tonight uncharacteristic of ourselves and we will have to look at those. The most important thing is that we won."

drew@sltrib.comTwitter: @drewjay —

West Coast Conference men's basketball tournament

P At Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

Wednesday's first-round game

• No. 8 Portland vs. No. 9 LMU, 7 p.m. MST, BYUtv

Thursday's second-round games

• No. 5 San Francisco vs. Portland-LMU winner, 7 p.m., ESPNU, BYUtv

• No. 6 San Diego vs. No. 7 Pepperdine, 9:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU, BYUtv

Friday's quarterfinals

• No. 4 Santa Clara vs. Portland-LMU-San Francisco winner, 7 p.m. MST, ESPNU

• No. 3 BYU vs. Pepperdine-San Diego winner, 9:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU

Saturday's semifinals

• No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Game 4 Winner, 7 p.m. MST, ESPN2

• No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. Game 5 Winner, 9:30 p.m. MST, ESPN2