BYU men’s basketball’s conference championship hopes came to an abrupt halt March 9 when the team lost 80-57 to conference seeded No. 7 San Diego.
The Cougars’ struggles started at the opening tip-off, as they fell behind 13-0 within five minutes. Yoeli Childs carried the majority of the Cougars’ workload in the minutes to follow, scoring 6 consecutive points for BYU.
In a game in which BYU never held the lead, the Torero defense held the Cougar stars to minimal production. Childs, an All-WCC first team player who averages over 21 points and nine rebounds per game, was held to just 14 points and six blocks on the night. All-WCC second team player TJ Haws put up just 10 points while adding three assists, much lower than his season average of 17.8 points and 5.1 assists.
BYU trailed by 27 at the half, the largest margin the team has trailed before heading into the locker room all season. The San Diego onslaught didn’t stop there as the Toreros went on an 11-4 run to start the final stanza, followed by another stretch in which San Diego outscored BYU 12-0. The Toreros led by as many as 44 in the second half, the largest margin by which BYU has trailed during any game this season.
“We did not get off to the start we wanted,” senior Luke Worthington said during the postgame press conference. “They were on track and it stayed that way for a long time. We’ve had our fair share of comebacks from large deficits this season, but it got to the point where it was just too much to overcome tonight.”
San Diego led in the vast majority of the meaningful statistical categories during the quarterfinal matchup, leaving BYU and its hopes to advance in the WCC tournament behind. BYU shot an alarming 5.9 percent from behind the arc while shooting just 31 percent overall.
“We got off to a tough start on both sides. The first shots we found were all 3-point shots, but we all missed,” head coach Dave Rose said in the postgame press conference. “We didn’t score and we got our head down. Tonight, they were a lot better than we were. We practiced well yesterday, but it is hard to execute your game plan when you are a shooting team and you shoot the percentage we did tonight.”
The Cougars will now wait to see if they get a bid in the NIT tournament. The tournament schedule will be released on March 17, but the Cougars are not predicted to be announced as a seed in the event.
The women’s basketball team is set to start its WCC championship run playing Pepperdine March 11. The teams both traded lopsided losses during the regular season, with the Cougars winning by 25 points in Provo Jan. 3 while losing by 14 points in Malibu Feb. 2.
BYU has proved to be a WCC contender this season by going 15-3 in the conference and 23-6 overall. BYU’s biggest accomplishment within the conference, and perhaps on the entire season, is going 2-0 against No. 14 Gonzaga. The games were Gonzaga’s only two losses in the conference all season while only losing three games total during the 2018-19 campaign.
Tipoff for the women’s game is set for 2 p.m. Pacific Time and can be watched on BYUTV.