The BYU men’s basketball team suffered its second conference loss of the season, falling 88-75 at San Diego on Saturday night.
TJ Haws led the Cougars with 27 points and Eric Mika added another double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds in the defeat.
“I think initially we didn’t come out with the right focus and attention to detail,” said BYU guard L.J. Rose. “We weren’t playing aggressive on either end. (San Diego) has good players and shooters and they kind of got themselves going early. It was hard to slow them down.”
Olin Carter III led the Toreros with 28 points, including 16 of San Diego’s first 20 points to start the game. Forward Cameron Neubauer contributed 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Foul trouble quickly came into play for BYU, with Nick Emery, Elijah Bryant and Braiden Shaw each picking up 2 fouls early in the first half. Five Cougars finished with three or more fouls, including Yoeli Childs who fouled out.
Both teams started slow, with San Diego pulling ahead to a 16-13 lead halfway through the period. Fouls and turnovers peppered the half, which saw San Diego take a 34-32 lead into halftime.
Haws sparked a 12-3 run to start the second half, scoring nine points on back-to-back 3-pointers, a layup and a free throw, to put BYU back on top 44-39. But San Diego would respond after each Cougar run. A jump shot by Juwan Gray with 8:21 left in the game put San Diego up 61-60, and the Toreros never looked back.
The Cougars would pull within three with 4:02 to play on a pair of free throws from Haws, but San Diego would outscore BYU 18-8 to finish the game.
“The biggest thing was when it was time to win the game in the last three, four and five minutes, (San Diego’s) execution on both ends of the floor was so much better than ours,” said Coach Rose. “They just had a real composure to them and we were kind of scattered.”
BYU continued to struggle at Jenny Craig Pavilion in conference play. The loss dropped their conference record at the arena to 3-3, with each loss coming every other year since BYU joined the conference. Only at St. Mary’s, Gonzaga and Pepperdine does BYU have a worse conference road record than at San Diego.
“Conference is like a new season,” said L.J. Rose. “Games like this you ultimately learn from. We have a young team but that’s no excuse. We are in January now. Ultimately we will learn from this that we can’t take teams for granted and can’t take possessions for granted. Teams want to beat us and we have a target on our backs.”
One highlight for BYU did come in the first half, when Nick Emery tied Jimmer Fredette’s record streak of 28-straight games with a made 3-pointer.
The loss drops BYU to 13-6 overall, 4-2 in conference play. Up next for the Cougars is a home game against Pepperdine on Thursday, Jan. 19. Tip off is set for 7pm MST. Also on Saturday, the BYU women’s basketball team defeated San Diego 81-63 at the Marriott Center to improve to 10-7 overall, 4-2 in conference play.