MALIBU, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – The BYU basketball team could not hold an 11-point lead in the second half, and saw its 4-game winning streak come to an end with a 76-73 loss at Pepperdine.
Spencer Johnson led the Cougars with 15 points, while Alex Barcello added 12, but the Cougars gave up 11 offensive rebounds to the Waves.
Head coach Mark Pope took responsibility for the Cougars’ inability to hang on for the win.
“I’m super disappointed,” he said. “Just a disgusting job coaching. Pepperdine is a really good team. We know that. They’re really talented. They’re extremely well- prepared and well-coached. Lorenzo [Romar] does a great job, and I did a poor job tonight. So that’s the end result.”
There were ten ties and nine lead changes in the second half alone. The Cougars had a couple chances in the final minute to take the lead, but Johnson turned the ball over and Barcello missed a game-tying three-pointer.
“I’m putting my guys in situations where they’re trying to penetrate in the gap where there is no gap,” Pope said. “I’m pushing these guys to go in transition when we shouldn’t be. So most of that is on me.”
BYU controlled the game in the first half, shooting 48 percent from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Strong first half defense from BYU held the Waves to 36 percent shooting and 12.5 percent from three. BYU ended the game ahead in shooting percentage (44-42 percent) and three point percentage (25-19 percent), but were outscored in the paint, didn’t win the rebounding battle and committed 13 costly turnovers.
Caleb Lohner scored all 11 of his points in the first half, as the Cougars took a 37-32 lead into the break.
BYU’s lead grew to 44-33 in the second half before the Waves began their comeback.
The Waves would go on a 19-6 run at that point, changing the game. Pepperdine took the lead for the first time up 49-48.
The lead went back-and-forth at that point, with both teams evenly matched in the box score. BYU and Pepperdine were both shooting 43 percent at that point.
There were 10 ties and nine lead changes in the second half.
Lots of action down the stretch resulted in the game’s final tie at 71-71. Pepperdine went ahead on free throws. The Cougars had chances to tie the game in the final minute but couldn’t convert.
This is the first time this season that BYU has lost after leading at the half, while it was Pepperdine’s first victory of the season when trailing at the half.
BYU will next host Pacific Saturday at 4:00 p.m.