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Portland Ore. • The wacky, thrilling, infuriating and thoroughly entertaining game pick your adjective, and it probably applies lasted 55 minutes, including three overtime sessions. But the result will linger much longer than that for the BYU Cougars, who might have just watched their NCAA Tournament hopes circle down the drain.
A reserve junior guard by the name of Bobby Sharp, if he hasn't already changed it to Bobby Sharpshooter, lit the Cougars up for 27 points and made 8 of the 13 3-pointers he attempted and the Portland Pilots ran off with the three-overtime marathon 114-110 in front of 2,813 fans who got their money's worth on Thursday night at the Chiles Center.
"Pretty exciting game, probably, to watch," BYU coach Dave Rose said, glumly.
In the end, Portland's shot-making, and Sharp's career game, was the difference as the Pilots overcame a spectacular scoring performance by BYU's Tyler Haws, who finished with a career-high 48 points. That output ties for the most points in NCAA basketball this season and is the third-most in BYU history. It was the most points in a West Coast Conference game since Loyola Marymount's Bo Kimble scored 50 in 1990.
But it wasn't quite enough.
"It doesn't matter unless you win," Haws said. "It stinks that we had to go out this way."
All told, the Pilots made 14 of the 23 3-pointers they put up to beat BYU for the first time in 10 tries.
The shot of the night was a heavily defended 3-pointer from a few feet beyond the arc that Sharp made with 11 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Rose and Haws said the junior from Santa Rosa, Calif., was on their scouting report, but he still burned them time and again.
"I felt like our defensive urgency was there. They just hit tough shots," Haws said. "Sharp just came off and hit shots with hands in his face. It just hurts. But we got to find a way to bounce back. We got a tough one on Saturday."
That's at Gonzaga, of all places.
"Initially, you tell them you are proud of their fight," Rose said of his post-game speech in the locker room. "There isn't anything anybody can say right now to make them feel better. We will have to go back and digest it a little bit, then put it behind us and get ready for Saturday."
Portland students stormed the court to celebrate with their heroes after the upset win at least, those with any energy left.
The Cougars had a 99-91 lead with 2 minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the second overtime, and were seemingly on the verge of escaping with their fifth WCC win over the Pilots. But they couldn't hold it, thanks to Sharp's sharpshooting and their own offensive blunders.
Most glaring was BYU's 14 missed free throws, including several down the stretch that could have won the game in regulation or the second overtime. The finished 29 of 43 from the free-throw line.
"A lot of those big rebounds off their missed free throws that we didn't get could have sealed it for us," Rose said. "And we could have shot better from the free-throw line. But some of those 3-point shots they made were just really clutch."
In the third overtime, Portland scored a second-chance basket after winning the tip and never trailed, as Matt Carlino missed a 3-pointer and the Cougars turned the ball over on their first two possessions.
The Cougars fell to 5-3 in WCC play, 13-8 overall, with the loss that snapped a five-game winning streak.
The Cougars made up a seven-point deficit in the last minute of overtime to take the momentum into the second 5-minute session. Then they saw an eight-point lead evaporate.
"It was just a crazy game to be in," Haws said. "It felt like we came back from the sea a few times. But you have got to give credit to them. … They just made the plays to win."
At the end of regulation, Haws stole an inbounds pass with 31.7 seconds left and scored to tie the game at 80-80, and both teams missed opportunities to win it in the last seconds of regulation.
BYU had the best chance, as Kyle Collinsworth grabbed a rebound and sprinted downcourt with the ball, only to lose it off his knee as he neared the basket with 1.4 seconds left. Collinsworth finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cougars also had trouble with Portland's Thomas van der Mars, who had 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
"We just battled," Haws said. "There are so many plays that could have helped us win. We had our chances, for sure."