PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The BYU men’s basketball team topped Loyola Marymount 63-38 in the West Coast Conference opener at the Marriott Center on Saturday night.
“It was a great night,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “I’m super proud of the guys. I keep talking to them about how it is so important to learn how to get through frustration to become a great team.”
Yoeli Childs led the Cougars (12-4, 1-0 WCC) with 19 points on eight of 13 shooting while adding 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Jake Toolson contributed 13 points, five steals and four assists while shooting three of six from beyond the arc. TJ Haws had eight points, five assists and four rebounds on the night while Connor Harding added seven points for BYU.
“Our defensive performance was great,” Childs said. “I think we were so locked in as a team. Our individual one-on-one defense was about being in the gaps and being able to help and rotating. We just did such a good job of playing together on the defensive end.”
As a team, the Cougars shot 42.6 percent from the field while holding the Lions (7-9, 1-1 WCC) to just 34 percent.
“We can’t let what’s happening offensively dictate the energy that we have defensively,” Toolson said. “In this case we were able to fight through what we were dealing with offensively and buckle down and get stops. That translated to the other end.”
Following a free throw by Childs and a pair of free throws by Toolson, Toolson found Haws for a backdoor layup to tie the game at five just over four minutes into the game. A reverse layup by Dalton Nixon and a fast-break layup by Zac Seljaas then gave BYU its first lead of the game, 9-7, with 12:38 remaining until halftime.
A Harding jumper put the Cougars up 11-10, but LMU responded with a 5-0 run to go up 15-11 with under eight minutes left in the half. BYU answered with a 8-0 scoring run of its own fueled by a Childs dunk and back-to-back 3-pointers by Toolson and Haws to give the Cougars a 19-15 advantage.
After a Lions jumper brought LMU back within two, Childs scored a put back tip-in and a trey from the right wing to extend BYU’s lead to seven, 24-17, with 3:55 left in the half. The Lions scored one last layup before both teams went into the locker rooms for halftime.
Childs led all scorers in the first half, tallying eight points on three of six shooting while also contributing seven rebounds and one block. As a team, the Cougars shot 32 percent from the field through the first 20 minutes while LMU shot 33 percent.
Childs continued to score to open the second half, hitting a turnaround hook shot and a put back tip-in while being fouled to give BYU an eight-point lead, 29-21, two minutes into the period. After the Lions scored five consecutive points, Haws nailed a jumper and Toolson converted a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 36-27 advantage with 14:11 left in the contest.
A floater by Childs followed by back-to-back corner 3s by Nixon and Harding extended BYU’s lead to 15, 44-29, midway through the second half. Kolby Lee drained a pair of free throws and Childs scored a put back layup and a fast-break dunk to give the Cougars a 51-36 advantage with 4:49 left in the game.
Toolson hit a trey after getting a steal and Alex Barcello drained a corner 3 as part of a 10-0 scoring run to aid BYU’s comfortable lead, 61-36, with 3:12 remaining. One last jumper from each team before the buzzer sounded brought the final score to 63-38 for the Cougars.
BYU continues WCC play on the road at Saint Mary’s on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 9 p.m. MST.