BYU men’s basketball is set to return to the Marriott Center on Jan. 24 after going 1-1 on its California trip with a win over Pepperdine and a loss to San Francisco.
“I just like the feel of the whole game and how we played. We got in a tough spot coming out of halftime, but they knew we’ve been there before and we’ve talked about it,” head coach Dave Rose said after the Cougars’ 87-76 win over Pepperdine.
TJ Haws had a career-high of 34 points while also contributing eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Pepperdine got into foul trouble against Haws, sending him to the foul line 22 times where Haws went 18-for-22 on free throws.
“It really takes everyone to get road wins like this. You have to have guys contribute,” Haws said. “I thought Zac (Seljaas) did a great job when he came in. I can’t say enough good things about what Gavin did tonight. He’s so long and active, and some of the rebounds he got were huge for us.”
Seljaas produced early for the Cougars, shooting 4-for-5 with nine rebounds and one steal. Gavin Baxter had a great game both offensively and defensively, not missing a shot the whole game. Baxter also grabbed six rebounds and had three timely blocks that created momentum for the Cougars.
Yoeli Childs came alive offensively in the second half, scoring 20 points while shooting 61.5 percent from the field. He also had five rebounds, one block and one steal.
“Tonight feels good and we are happy about this win, but tomorrow we’ve really got to focus in on San Francisco,” Haws said. “They’ve been playing really well all year long. It’s going to take another effort like tonight where everyone steps up and is helping.”
BYU then traveled to San Francisco on Jan. 19 where the Dons handed the Cougars a definitive 82-63 loss.
The loss, which cracked BYU’s three-game win streak, was the Cougars’ ninth loss of the season. A 16-0 San Francisco run during the first half proved to be the difference as BYU was never able to rebound from the deficit.
Rose detailed some of the issues that the Cougars faced during the game.
“Tonight, we just got really sped up on offense,” Rose said. “During that time, it seemed that we took worse and worse shots. We didn’t get back defensively, and they scored in transition. They put that run together and then we try to stop it, play even and make a run of your own.”
The rough night on the road saw the Cougars score 44 percent of their shot attempts, going 23-for-52 from the field. This contrasted greatly with San Francisco’s 64 percent success rate on its own shots, 35-for-55 from field goal range.
McKay Cannon scored nine points and gave his thoughts on the Cougar’s valiant effort.
“We battled back but anytime you are on the road and give up a 16-0 run it will be very hard to win,” Cannon said. “Hats off to them, I don’t know what happened in that stretch, but it wasn’t us.”
Even Childs, who managed to outpoint even the top scorers of San Francisco, was unable to carry his team through the game. Along with his team, he also experienced difficulties in the first half but fought his way back in the second.
“He showed for a little bit that he’s human. He’s been lights out but that happens, that’s life,” said Cannon on his teammate. “We did our best to make do but he came back in the second half and was Yoeli again.”
Despite the bitter loss, Rose remains positive as he looks toward the future.
“The most important thing now is to get home and have the guys continue to progress and believe in themselves. There is a lot of ball to play and I think this team has real potential,” he said. “You’ve got to continue to win because the confidence is so important with these guys and you need that positive reinforcement.”
The Cougars look to regain their footing on Jan. 24 when they face St. Mary’s in a home game at the Marriott Center.