BYU escaped a back-and-forth affair with the Pacific Tigers with a 69-59 win Saturday night. The game featured 16 lead changes or ties with the Cougars finishing with a 13-2 scoring run in the contest’s final seven minutes.
“A dogfight, that’s how it always is when you play those guys,” BYU forward Yoeli Childs said. “They don’t try to beat you on skill, they try to beat you by being more physical. I think we did a good job matching their physicality and intensity.”
Childs led the offensive charge with 19 points and 13 rebounds, his 14th double-double of the season and 34th of his career. Freshman guard Connor Harding played starter minutes while coming off the bench with 13 points, going 3-for-5 from behind the arc.
“When you play against guys like (Pacific) that like to drive to the hoop, people are going to get in foul trouble and your opportunity is going to come, so I knew that I had to mentally prepare myself (to score),” Harding said.
Forward Gavin Baxter added 9 points and two blocks while guard Nick Emery contributed 8 points of his own with two steals.
Guard TJ Haws had a slower night on offense, scoring just 8 points and shooting a paltry 1-for-8 from the field, but his defense and playmaking ability came up huge down the stretch in the second half, finishing with seven assists, a steal and a block.
“If your shots aren’t falling, a lot of guys would just go away, but TJ wouldn’t go away and that’s what makes him who he is,” Childs said. “He did a great job on the defensive end and with playmaking to set guys up.”
Childs said he feels the Cougars are hitting their stride in the thick of conference play.
“I feel like we’re going up and up right now and it’s a good time of the year to be getting better,” Childs said. “I don’t think we’re near our peak but that we’re going to peak at the right time.”
The Cougars will embark on a two-game road trip at San Diego and Loyola Marymount this week before returning home on Thursday, Feb. 21, against San Francisco.