PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – With Yoeli Childs in the lineup, BYU sure looks like an NCAA Tournament team.
Childs poured in a season-high 32 points as the Cougars exacted a little revenge against San Francisco with a 90-76 victory Saturday night at the Marriott Center.
“I’m really happy for our guys. San Francisco is a good team,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “They’re pretty explosive and this is a huge win for us. The Marriott Center was unbelievable. We’re grateful for all of the people that came out. They make this building so special and they really help us. It’s awesome. We have a big week coming up so we have to get back to it and keep fighting through this month.”
The Cougars are now 19-7 overall and 8-3 in conference play, all alone in second place in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga.
In addition to his season-high 32 points, Childs added six rebounds, two assists and a block. Seniors Jake Toolson and TJ Haws both dropped 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. They also dished seven assists apiece.
“It feels really good, but I got a pit in my stomach about the comeback that they made, because they’ve done it twice in a row and won,” Childs said. “I think we grew a lot from the past two, but we want more. We’re obviously happy with the win, but we’re not satisfied. We know we need to get to work and get even better to accomplish the goals we have.”
The Cougars wasted no time scoring as Haws layed the ball in just seconds after tip-off. Childs continued the scoring for BYU as he slashed to the rim for two and then slammed a dunk off a pass from Haws to make it 6-4, Cougars.
The Dons responded with a pair of baskets before BYU answered with another Childs bucket near the rim and a Haws trey to take an 11-10 lead.
Childs made another couple of buckets at the rim, the first assisted from Haws, to make it 15-10, BYU. Toolson hit Haws on a fast break play that he was able to roll in uncontested.
Toolson then made a bucket of his own after he dropped it in off the backboard. On the next play, there was a loose ball on the ground that Alex Barcello scooped up and dished to Haws who sidestepped a Don defender and drained a 3-pointer to make it 22-12, Cougars.
With 10 minutes left in the half, Childs had already reached 12 points. The forward made another shot near the rim to extend the BYU lead to 24-12. Toolson then assisted Zac Seljaas on a 3-point shot that continued the Cougar run to make it a 27-12 ballgame.
Connor Harding was able to cut through San Francisco’s defense for a dunk that made it 29-14, BYU. Toolson continued finding the open shooter as he dished a behind-the-back pass to Dalton Nixon who drained the trey to make the game 32-16. Harding then splashed a trey of his own on the Cougars’ next offensive possession. Childs then made a tough step-back shot over a pair of Dons that made it 35-18, BYU.
“We just need to keep getting better defensively,” said Nixon. “I think that we can be successful in these next few weeks as we approach the conference tournament.”
Gavin Baxter checked into the game in the final five minutes of the first half for the first time this season.
The first free throws of the half for either team came from Nixon as he drained both attempts from the charity stripe to give the Cougars a 39-25 lead. Seljaas then made another bucket before Haws pulled up from “Jimmer range” to connect on his third 3-pointer of the contest to give BYU its largest lead of the night at 44-25.
The Cougars held San Francisco to just 1 of 14 from behind the arc, good for just seven percent in the first half. BYU shot 18 of 32 from the field, a steady 56 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point territory.
BYU began the second period with two and-1 opportunities — Childs made his free throw and Kolby Lee missed his attempt from the charity stripe. Toolson and Childs then drained back-to-back treys to make the game 55-30, BYU.
Childs and Toolson combined for another pair of buckets, this time at the rim and a contested fadeaway mid-range jumper, respectively. Alex Barcello then got to the line to claim a 1-and-1 opportunity and made both free throws to give BYU a 64-47 lead.
A pair of buckets from Nixon and Barcello put the Cougars ahead 69-47. Nixon then posted a highlight-reel dunk over a couple of Dons defenders that was followed by a wide-open Harding trey.
San Francisco went on a run of its own to cut the lead to as little as seven before BYU surged back.
In the final three minutes, Childs took the game over — making a two before making a free throw and then stealing the ball on the Dons’ next possession. He then drained a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a double-digit lead again at 86-75 and grabbed a critical defensive rebound to put the San Francisco comeback out of reach.
The game concluded with a Toolson trey and made free-throw on BYU’s last two scoring possessions.
“We would like to win a lot,” Pope said. “Something that pushes us forward is how much the guys put in and have invested. They put in so much time and effort. They have had unbelievable and remarkable success this season. They have gotten better and we are a dangerous team this season, but we can’t be satisfied. The best locker room in America comes in and competes every single minute of every single game. If you do the season right, you have nothing left and are dead inside and every day that will be sweeter and sweeter. In terms of performance, we can be as good as anybody. We are chasing lofty goals.”
The Cougars return to action Thursday, Feb. 13, to take on Loyola Marymount at Gersten Pavilion.