The BYU men’s basketball team squandered a 16-point lead against the Pepperdine Waves, losing 80-74 on the road Thursday night.
The Cougars played without junior guard Chase Fischer, who was hit in the head by an errant ball during morning shoot-around.
“Whenever a key guy like (Fischer) goes down, you want him to play,” BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth said. “There are shots he would have hit; there are plays he would have made.”
The Waves and Cougars went back and forth in the first 10 minutes of the game before BYU began a 14-0 run to take a 27-14 lead at the six-minute mark.
BYU made a concerted effort to attack the basket and score inside after Pepperdine’s impressive three-point defense held the Cougars to just 23 percent shooting in the last game.
The strategy appeared to have paid off, as BYU scored 22 of its 38 first-half points in the paint and attempted 11 free throws before the break. The Cougars only took eight total free throws against Pepperdine in Provo.
The Waves’ Amadi Udenyi sank a three at the halftime buzzer to cut BYU’s lead to 38-25 heading into the locker room. Anson Winder led the Cougars with 12 points at the break, while Collinsworth added six points and seven rebounds.
A number of BYU turnovers and fouls allowed Pepperdine to come within three points early in the second half.
“The first seven or eight minutes of the second half was really the difference; it gave them momentum,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “Their spacing was better, and we just weren’t quite as active defensively.”
The Waves found themselves in the bonus with 13:45 still left in the game. They continued to feed the ball to their post players from then on.
“We couldn’t get a stop; then when they would miss a shot we couldn’t get a rebound,” Collinsworth said. “That was the story of the second half.”
Stacy Davis and Jett Raines finished with 22 and 14 points respectively after combining for five points in the first half.
Pepperdine completed its comeback with a Jeremy Major three, which gave the Waves a one-point lead with just over five minutes to go. They then extended their late-game advantage to as many as nine before ending with an 80-74 victory.
Tyler Haws scored 22 points, and Winder finished with 20 in the loss.
BYU fell to fourth place in the WCC and 7-5 in conference play. The team will face Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Saturday.