PROVO, Utah -- Brigham Young University won 61-58 against the University of Utah Saturday night, in a rivalry game that was close in the final minutes.
The Cougars were led by Matt Carlino, who has been up and down in his play this season and has lost minutes to Craig Cusick early in the season.
Carlino came off the bench again, with head coach Dave Rose deciding to go with Craig Cusick rather than the struggling guard. Carlino checked in after five minutes of game time in the first half, giving Josh Sharp a breather as the first man off the bench.
In Carlino's first possession, he set up Cusick for a 3-point attempt. After a missed shot by the Utes, Carlino took a pass from Brock Zylstra and knocked down his first attempt.
Two possessions later, there was Carlino again, ripping the ball away from Dallin Bachynski after a defensive rebound and setting up Tyler Haws for his first field goal of the game.
After two unsuccessful trips by the Cougar offense, Carlino received a pass from Cusick outside the 3-point line and buried his second shot of the game, and his first 3-point attempt, to cut the lead back down to one.
Utah would go on a 19-9 run following that basket, increasing their lead to 12 at the peak of the run, which saw Carlino take a seat on the bench after two missed 3-point attempts, a foul, and a turnover. Utah went into the locker room at halftime with a nine point lead, with an edge in effort, effort, and production.
Carlino was the only BYU player with more than one made field goal, leading the team in scoring with 8 points with 3 assists, meaning Carlino had a hand in 66 percent of the Cougars' field goals during the quarter.
The Cougars were still down by nine points when Carlino checked back into the game in the second half, with 17:37 remaining on the game clock. Two minutes after being sent back onto the court, Carlino swiped his second steal of the game, driving down the court for a right-handed layup to cut the Utah lead to seven.
Carlino earned an assist on the next two BYU field goals, finding Brandon Davies for a jumper and a slick pass to a cutting Anson Winder to gradually trim the lead away from Utah.
Carlino's first 3-pointer of the second half came with 12:21 left, cutting the lead to three. The next six minutes only had six made shots, with the Utes climbing back to a six point lead with six minutes left, 52-46.
After a miss by Glen, Carlino made his fourth 3-point attempt, and after a stop on defense, tied the game with his fifth made 3-point attempt of the night, forcing Utah to call a timeout and sending the fans into an uproar.
"They were playing off," Carlino said after the game. "They were giving us that shot the whole game, but those times I got up there and stuck it. They were laying off us and stayed glued to [Tyler Haws] so someone had to hit shots."
After the back to back 3-pointers to tie the game, the second coming with 4:55 left in the game, Carlino would only take one more attempt from the floor, letting Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws carry the team down the stretch. The five made three pointers was one more than the number of three pointers he had made all season, improving his shooting percentage from 13.6 percent to 25 percent after going 5-10 from distance.
"We know that Matt's a really good shooter, and he hasn't shot the ball like he'd like to this season," said Coach Rose after the game. "I just believe that things will all work out. The five he hit tonight were all needed, every one."
Carlino finished the game as the leading scorer, with 19 points on 13 attempts, connecting on 5-10 3-point attempts. Carlino also had 3 steals and 5 assists against his 2 turnovers. With seven made field goals, and five assists, Carlino helped set up 12 of the 19 made field goal attempts in the game - a staggering 63 percent of the made field goals by BYU.
It was by no means a perfect game by Carlino. It was, however, arguably his best game since his 30- point outburst against San Francisco, on the road, in an 85-84 win last year during conference play.
In game number 34 for the young point guard, Carlino showed poise, an ability to find open teammates, solid defense, and found opportunites to score in a game where his team was being outplayed on their homecourt.