SAN DIEGO (ABC4 Sports) – BYU barely avoided disaster Saturday night in San Diego.
Yoeli Childs scored on an alley-oop dunk off a pass from TJ Haws with 11 seconds left, as the Cougars held on for a 72-71 victory over the Toreros Saturday night.
The victory was BYU’s sixth in a row, as the Cougars improved to 21-7 on the season, 10-3 in the West Coast Conference.
“It was a big time play by veteran guys that are here and trying to do something special,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “Our toughness and grit and our willingness to turn frustration into fight was outstanding and this team got to win with a defensive stop and that’s pretty great.”
Childs and Haws scored 17 points apiece to lead the BYU offense. Childs also recorded seven rebounds, one block and one assist. Haws dished out an impressive 10 assists while grabbing four rebounds. Zac Seljaas followed with 10 points after scoring three 3-pointers.
After a back and forth game, BYU held a one-point advantage, 70-69, with 1:10 remaining. The Cougars turned the ball over with 42 second remaining and the Toreros scored an open layup to take the lead back with 20 seconds to play.
Following the San Diego basket, Haws connected with Childs for an alley-oop dunk, giving BYU a 72-71 lead with 11 seconds on the clock. In the final seconds, BYU’s defense forced a San Diego miss in the final seconds and the Cougars held on for the win.
“I had the easiest job for sure,” Childs said about his game-winning dunk. “Coach Pope drew up an amazing play and that was exactly how he drew it up. TJ makes an unbelievable pass. I didn’t really do anything there. TJ makes an amazing pass and a great call by coach.”
“TJ Haws is so special and is such a luxury,” added Pope. “He’s so good and Yoeli is a monstrous target and is so athletic and dangerous on the weak side. It was a big time play by veteran guys that are here and trying to do something special.”
The Toreros (9-19, 2-11 WCC) offense jumped to an early 7-0 lead before a pair of Kolby Lee free throws put the Cougars on the board with 17:21 on the clock. With San Diego on top 12-11, Seljaas gave BYU its first lead of the night as he buried a 3-pointer. After the Toreros answered with a bucket of their own, Seljaas hit another trey to put BYU on top, 17-14, with 10:44 remaining in the first half.
San Diego responded with another run as the offense scored six-straight points. A point from Seljaas slowed down the run, bringing the score to 20-18 for the Toreros with seven minutes to play before halftime.
Jake Toolson’s first bucket of the night was from behind the arc to give the lead back to the Cougars, 23-22. A Toolson basket in the paint and a 3-pointer by Haws extended the BYU advantage to four, 28-24, forcing San Diego to take a timeout with just over four minutes on the clock.
Following the timeout, the Toreros scored back-to-back baskets and in the final two minutes of the half the two teams traded baskets, resulting in San Diego taking a 33-32 advantage into the locker room. The Cougars shot 34.3 percent from the field in the first half compared to the Toreros’ 44.1 percent.
Lee went 2 of 2 from the charity stripe to score the first points of the second half. A layup by Haws followed as the BYU defense held San Diego scoreless through the first two and a half minutes of the half.
Throughout the following four minutes, the two teams traded baskets to keep it a one-possession game. With the Toreros on top 48-46, the Cougars went on a 6-0 run to take back the lead, 52-48, with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Haws took control at the 9:24 mark as he scored five-straight to extend the BYU advantage to 60-55. A San Diego layup with four minutes on the clock brought the Cougar lead to only one-point, 63-62. Barcello buried a bucket from beyond the arc, but the Toreros scored back-to-back baskets to even the game at 66-all with 2:27 left to play.
On the game, the Cougars shot 44.8 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from 3 and 68.8 percent from the charity stripe. San Diego recorded 50.0 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and 50.0 percent from the free-throw line.
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center for a two-game homestand on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. against Santa Clara, before hosting #2 Gonzaga Saturday at 8:00. MST.