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Provo • Tyler Haws scored 37 points and Brandon Davies added 22 points and nine rebounds, but the BYU Cougars have come to expect those kind of numbers from their two best players this up-and-down season.
The real reason BYU fought its way past Washington 90-79 on Tuesday night in a National Invitation Tournament first-round game in front of a disappointing crowd of 7,511 at the Marriott Center was the play of sophomore point guard Matt Carlino.
All in the second half, pretty much.
Carlino's 18 points and nine assists in the last 16 minutes of the game after a dreadful first half when he played just eight minutes, scored just two points and committed four turnovers with no assists powered BYU (22-11) to at least one postseason win for the fourth straight season.
"I thought Carlino, in the second half, scoring 18 points, may have been the difference in getting them going," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, whose team fell to 18-16 and saw its bid for a second straight run to the NIT semifinals fall drastically short.
The Cougars will stay at home for their next game, against the winner of Wednesday's Tennessee-Mercer game, which BYU coach Dave Rose said he will obviously be watching with interest. But Rose wasn't sure when the second-round game will be played. It will likely be Friday or Saturday.
Rose does know that when the Cougars get contributions from their Big Three Carlino, Haws and Davies combined to score 79 of the Cougars' 90 points, their most since a Feb. 2 win over Santa Clara (96-79) they are difficult to beat, especially at home.
"The effort was as good for a whole game as we have had this season," Rose said.
Carlino was the catalyst, and said afterward that he started having fun in the second half, "playing free and loose" and gained confidence when some deep, Jimmerish 3-pointers started to fall.
"It was win or go home," Carlino said.
Romar said that along with Carlino, BYU's ability to get its transition game going in the second half was the difference. The Huskies expected that from BYU, but couldn't stop it.
"I am not going to say, 'They were who we thought they were,' " he said. "I'm not going to say that. ... But they were the team that we talked to our team about."
The Cougars had 12 fast-break points 10 in the second half and outrebounded the Huskies 43-34 despite not having the services of 22-game starter Josh Sharp, out with a strained Achilles tendon.
And Haws was sensational while posting his second-highest scoring total of the season and outdueling his boyhood teammate/foe, UW's C.J. Wilcox of Pleasant Grove (20 points on 7-of-18 shooting).
"Tyler Haws is an exceptional basketball player," Romar said. "We knew he could get out and run and was very good at it."
The Cougars led most of the first half, but a barrage of 3-pointers late in the period gave the Huskies a 35-33 lead at the break.
A 13-2 run after Washington's Shawn Kemp Jr. (15 points) scored on a putback gave the Cougars a cushion, and they stayed in front by three points or more the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by Carlino with 6:35 remaining snapped the Cougars out of a mild drought.
"I think the altitude really got to them," Carlino said. "They hit a wall, and we just kept running."
Storylines BYU moves on
R IN SHORT • Matt Carlino's big second half powers BYU past Washington in an NIT first-round game.
KEY MOMENT • Carlino has all nine of his assists in the second half after registering four turnovers and no assists in the first half.
KEY STAT • Tyler Haws scores 37 points, breaking the school NIT record of 28 set by Roland Minson in 1951.