The moment, of course, was when Haws lined up to shoot free throws with six seconds on the clock and the Cougars up by three. If Haws hits these shots, the game is over for all intents and purposes.
This situation couldn’t have played out any better for the Cougars. Haws is the school’s all-time leader in free-throw percentage, hitting more than 88 percent in his career. But Haws improbably missed both free throws, opening the door for a possible comeback by the Zags.
Luckily the Cougars were able to hold on for the victory, but this situation added fuel to many fans’ perception that Haws doesn’t come through in the clutch.
But is that perception fair? Haws will leave BYU its career leader in scoring, free throws made, free throw percentage, games started and 20-point games.
In my opinion, Haws’ consistency is probably his biggest strength, but with that, it’s probably the reason fans might believe he can’t elevate his games when it matters most.
The Coal Miner
Game in and game out, Haws scores 20 points, nails mid-range jumpers and gets to the foul line. He makes it look easy, maybe a little too easy. So it’s hard for fans to understand when he misses shots like he did Saturday night against the Bulldogs.
His predecessor and former teammate, Jimmer Fredette, had a flair for the dramatic. We all remember when Jimmer dropped 47 points on the Utes, including a half court shot to close out the first half, or when he went into Viejas arena in front of a nationally televised audience and led the Cougars past the sixth ranked Aztecs, or when he torched New Mexico for 52 points in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Unfortunately for Haws, some of his most memorable moments have come in losses. The first that comes to mind came during Haws’ sophomore season at home against St. Mary’s. Haws hit a floater in the lane with 2.5 seconds on the clock that looked like it would be the game-winner, but Matthew Dellavedova had other plans. Dellavedova took the inbounds pass, dribbled just beyond half court and nailed the actual game winner.
The second is last year’s triple overtime thriller against Portland where Haws scored 48 points, but the Cougars still fell 114–110 to the Pilots.
Neither of those losses were Haws’ fault, but because of their outcomes he still doesn’t have that signature moment that could have quieted all of his doubters.
In his Oscar-winning performance in “Whiplash,” JK Simmons’ character noted for individuals who are striving for greatness, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job.’” And that’s the crossroads Haws finds himself in his career. He still has the West Coast Conference Tournament and hopefully an NCAA Tournament birth to prove his detractors wrong and truly cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats and not just a consistent scorer who shrinks in big moments.