The Cougars hit shots early and often Jan. 10, beating the Portland Pilots 79-56 in the Marriott Center. The game marked the first time the Cougars have played at home in almost a month.
“It’s been 29 days since we’ve been in here,” Zac Seljaas said. “We missed our fans. We missed playing in front of all these great Cougar fans.”
The Cougars went on a 23-2 run after the Pilots converted on their first shot of the game. BYU shot 11-20 from the field and 3-point line through its first 20 shot attempts, while the Pilots struggled to put the ball in the hoop going just 2-20 to start the game.
“We played the first ten minutes maybe as well as we’ve played all year long,” head coach Dave Rose said. “In the first ten minutes, I thought we were really good.”
Portland brought the game closer near the end of the half, going on an 8-0 run with just over two minutes left. The two teams traded 3-pointers including a Rylan Bergeson conversion from behind the arc with under two seconds remaining in the half. Though once being up by as many as 19 points, BYU nursed a 6-point lead going into the locker rooms, leading 36-30.
“I thought that Rylan’s basket at the end of the first half was really big,” Rose said. “It stopped the bleeding and gave us a two-possession lead going into halftime.”
Yoeli Childs led all BYU scorers with 8 points in the first half, with McKay Cannon netting 7 of his own. The Cougars shot 40 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, marginally above their season average of 32 percent. Compared with other Division I programs, if BYU averaged 40 percent from behind the arc on the season, it would be placed among the top ten teams in the nation.
“The entire season we’ve trusted our 3-point shot,” Childs said. “We have really good shooters on the team, we have some of the best shooters I’ve ever played with, ever seen … you have to continue to trust what we do and shooters (have to) shoot.”
Childs started the second half right where he left off before heading into the locker rooms, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes of the second frame and 20 total second-half points. He only needed 29 minutes to secure his 11th double-double of the 2018-19 campaign, finishing the game with 28 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. This impressive finish came just days after Childs was named to the Lute Olson Award midseason watchlist, an award given to the most outstanding non-freshman, non-transfer student in NCAA Division I.
“That’s what’s awesome about (Yoeli). He can go on and go for ten in a row,” Seljaas said. “He’s such a great player that it’s so fun to play with. He has the all-around game.”
Leading by as many as 24 points late in the half, the Cougars’ bench outscored the Pilots’ bench 24-19. The 23-point win continued the Cougars’ pattern of winning by double digits — every win this season has come by at least 10 points, with this game being the fourth time BYU has won by at least 20. The Cougars went on to secure the 79-56 victory.
The Cougars will look to improve their conference record to 3-1 when Santa Clara pays a visit to the Marriott Center on Saturday, Jan. 12.