Strong offensive performances by Yoeli Childs and Jahshire Hardnett led BYU to a 105-78 win over Rice University on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at the Marriott Center.
“I thought our guys competed hard,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We competed together. That was the best offensive night of the season for us so far.”
Hardnett had a career night for the Cougars, scoring 20 points on 3-4 shooting from three-point territory, both career highs. He shot 6-7 overall from the field and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 23 minutes.
“My teammates were just getting me the ball in good situations where I could get up shots and score,” Hardnett said. “I knew eventually I would start seeing a bigger (basket) than what I’ve been seeing, and (my threes) fell today so that was a good thing.”
Childs was as solid as ever for BYU, dropping 28 points on 13-18 shooting and adding seven rebounds and five assists. His presence was felt on the defensive side as well, where he had two blocks and a steal on the night.
TJ Haws chipped in 18 points on 6-9 shooting for BYU and had a team-high 8 assists against the Owls.
As a team, the Cougars shot 56 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. They outscored the Owls in fastbreak points 14-6 and had only four turnovers compared to Rice’s 13.
Both teams went back and forth in the early minutes of the first half, and Rice took a 19-16 lead after a Payton Moore layup. However, a Childs three sparked a 19-6 run by the Cougars that put them up 35-25 with 6:37 remaining in the half. Both teams played even for the remainder of the half, and BYU took a 54-43 lead into the break.
The Owls came out to an aggressive start in the second half and looked to be in control of the momentum after a Robert Martin layup cut the Cougars’ lead to eight. However, Rice missed a layup a few possessions later which led to a transition three by Zac Seljaas, forcing Rice head coach Scott Pera to call a timeout.
“Zac hit a huge three in transition,” Rose said of the play. “It was kinda one of those where you wonder if it’s too early or too quick, but if you took Zac’s best percentage shot, that’s where it is. That was a big shot, and it got the crowd going.”
BYU never looked back and outscored the Owls 42-26 in the final 13 minutes after Seljaas’ three.
With the win, the Cougars have now won five straight, all at home, since their season-opening loss at Nevada.
BYU looks to add to that streak on Nov. 24 at 4 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center, when they face Houston, Rose’s alma mater.
“It’ll be a battle,” Rose said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Sampson, and he’ll have his guys ready to go.”