LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – It took another second half comeback, but the BYU basketball team is coming home from its Southern California road trip with a sweep and a five-game winning streak.
Four players scored in double-digits, led by Yoeli Childs with 18 points, as the Cougars erased a 12-point deficit to beat Loyola Marymount, 70-62.
“These guys battled today,” said head coach Dave Rose. “I am really happy for the guys because of the feel that we are playing with right now. It seems like it is really fun for them and they have a lot of confidence. Early this season we got to these points where we had some really bad luck and things just didn’t work for us. I think we have just battled through it and we learned. There is a good confident feeling with our group.”
The Cougars improve to 18-10 on the season, 10-3 in the West Coast Conference, still in sole posession of second place.
Childs led all scorers with 18 points while recording five assists, four rebounds and one steal. Gavin Baxter and TJ Haws scored 13 points apiece. Baxter shot 6 of 6 from the field while grabbing seven rebounds, two steals and adding two blocks. Haws added eight assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal. Zac Seljaas went 4 of 4 from beyond the arc to score 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
“I knew that it was going to be a tough game today and I just came in with confidence that when you shoot it you just need confidence,” Seljaas said. “That’s how everyone was today, we knew it was going to be a battle.”
Baxter scored the first four points for the Cougars (18-10, 10-3 WCC) but the Lions (17-10, 5-8 WCC) jumped to a 10-4 lead at the 16:25 mark.
Near the 14-minute mark, BYU went on a run as Childs scored two buckets at the rim and Baxter netted his third basket to give the Cougars a 13-12 lead.
Loyola Marymount took back a controlling lead, but Seljaas drained his second trey and Connor Harding converted on a 3-point play to cut the deficit back down to four, 23-19, with 6:32 remaining in the first half.
The Lions led by as many as 12 at 31-19 and took a 36-30 lead into the locker room after shooting 48.3 percent from the field despite the Cougars shooting 54.5 percent from the field.
Childs came out strong in the second half, scoring 10 of BYU’s 15 points as Loyola Marymount held onto a 49-45 lead with 13:33 remaining in the game.
With nearly seven minutes to play, Childs made two shots from the charity stripe to start a run that would eventually win the game. Baxter scored back-to-back buckets to tie the score for the first time in the second half at 58-all and then Nick Emery and Seljaas drained consecutive 3-pointers to give the Cougars a 64-58 advantage with 1:50 remaining. Haws added a pair of free throws to make it a 14-0 run that turned a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Haws made four more from the free throw line in the final 40 seconds to secure the BYU victory.
On the game, the Cougars shot 48.9 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3 and 85.7 percent from the free throw line. The Lions recorded 45.1 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 85.7 from the charity stripe.
“With this team especially, after the tough preseason on the road, you have to give all the credit to the guys who fought through it and said they would change it and make it happen,” Rose said.
BYU returns to the Marriott Center on Thursday, Feb. 21, as the Cougars host San Francisco at 7:00 p.m.