PROVO, Utah (AP) — T.J. Haws scored 28 points and added nine assists to help No. 23 BYU hold off Santa Clara for a 85-75 victory on Thursday night.
Yoeli Childs scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Jake Toolson added 20 points and 10 boards for BYU (22-7, 11-3 West Coast Conference). The Cougars won their seventh straight.
Josip Vrankic scored 28 points and collected 11 rebounds to lead the Broncos (18-10, 5-8). Tahij Eaddy added 11 points, all in the second half.
BYU finished with a 41-32 advantage on rebounds.
Santa Clara opened the second half on a 10-2 run and made it a one-possession game when Trey Wertz and Keshawn Justice sank back-to-back 3-pointers to cut BYU's lead to 42-40.
The Broncos took only their second lead of the game at 49-47 when Eaddy made a 3-pointer for his first basket. Santa Clara went 4-of-4 from long-distance through the first seven minutes of the second half after making only one 3-pointer before halftime.
But BYU took command with a 15-3 run to take an 81-69 lead going into the final minute. The Cougars made four straight baskets, culminating in a 3-pointer from Childs at the top of the key, to punctuate the game-clinching spurt.
The Broncos missed 12 of their first 15 shots from the field. It opened the door for BYU to surge ahead once the Cougars worked out of their own slow start. BYU scored on five straight possessions to carve out a 17-6 lead midway through the first half. Childs punctuated a 9-0 run with back-to-back layups.
The Broncos scored their first 10 baskets in the paint before Jalen Williams broke the ice from the perimeter to cut BYU's lead to 34-26. Santa Clara could not get the deficit under double digits again before halftime. Haws hit four free throws –- interrupted only by a layup from Childs –- to push the Cougars' lead to 40-28.
THE BIG PICTURE
Santa Clara: The Broncos hung tough by getting to the basket after an early shooting drought. That opened things up on the perimeter, which allowed Santa Clara to stay in the game until the final minutes.
BYU: A rare off-night from the perimeter put the Cougars into a dogfight for the better part of the second half. BYU dodged an upset loss by making stops at critical junctures down the stretch.
BYU didn't hurt its spot in the Top 25 and can help it significantly if it can score an upset victory over No. 2 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Santa Clara visits Pacific on Saturday.
BYU hosts No. 2 Gonzaga on Saturday.
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