The USF Dons lost a heartbreaker to the BYU Cougars 79-77 in overtime in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament. The Dons eliminated their chances of playing in the NCAA tournament in the process, while the Cougars live to play another day for the WCC championships against Gonzaga tomorrow.
The Dons (21-11) started off sluggishly, falling behind 27-17 after a 3-pointer by the Cougars’ Anson Winder. The Dons stormed back to take a 37-35 lead at halftime. The second half was hotly contested, as the Dons were able to stymie WCC Player of the Year Tyler Haws into a poor shooting night. However, Haws was able to convert all 14 of his free throws to score 24 points, many of them clutch points deep into the second half and the overtime period.
Matt Carlino kept the Cougars (23-10) in the game with clutch shots of his own, while Kyle Collinsworth crashed the boards for 18 points and 12 rebounds. Wilder scored 15 points, followed by Eric Mika (11 points) and Carlino (11 points) off the bench. Mika also notched a double-double with 10 rebounds.
BYU advances to meet top-seeded Gonzaga in Tuesday night’s tournament final.
The Dons were led by Cole Dickerson‘s own double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Dickerson scored a number of ways–behind the 3-point arc, as well as in the post, some off high-low entry passes from the Dons’ halfcourt sets. Matt Glover scored 14 points, including clutch buckets and free throws in overtime, keeping the Dons in the game until Avry Holmes missed a desperation 3-point shot from the right corner.
Glover and Tim Derksen were able to thwart Haws’ scoring outbursts from the field, even if Haws managed to get to the line and convert his free throws. Holmes dished a game-high seven assists and created four steals on defense.
Carlin sandwiched a 3-point shot with two 3-point plays the traditional way, giving the Cougars a 56-51 lead with 10:49 left in regulation. But the Dons managed to claw their way back and tie the game at 64-all with 3:22 left on the game clock. The physical match up would end with that score, as neither team could score the rest of the way in regulation.
In overtime, Haws converted four consecutive free throws, followed by a layup of a diagonal cut into the left lane, giving the Cougars a seemingly comfortable cushion. But USF would not give up, as Glover converted on two free throws and a trey. Holmes would score on two layups, but the Cougars closed out the victory with free throws and one final defensive stop with time running out.
USF shot 42.4 percent (28-for-66) from the field, 39.1 percent (9-for-23) behind the 3-point line, and 63.2 percent (12-for-19) from the charity stripe. USF was out-rebounded 45-35.
BYU shot 41.9 percent (26-for-62) from the field, 30.0 percent (3-for-10) behind the 3-point line, and 85.7 percent (24-for-28) from the free throw line.
West Coast Conference Tournament
All Games at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
Game 1: (10) Loyola Marymount 67, (7) Portland 64
Game 2: (9) Santa Clara 81, (8) Pacific 64
Game 3: (3) USF 69, (6) San Diego 60
Game 4: (2) BYU 85, (10) Loyola Marymount 74
Game 5: (1) Gonzaga 77, (9) Santa Clara 75
Game 6: (4) Saint Mary’s 80, (5) Pepperdine 69
(1) Gonzaga 70, (4) Saint Mary’s 54
(2) BYU 79, (3) USF 77, OT
(2) BYU vs. (1) Gonzaga, 6 p.m. (ESPN)