PROVO – The BYU Cougars built a big lead but let the San Diego Toreros get within six late to make the game nearly a nail-biter in a 87-73 Cougar victory on Saturday night.
The game was full of physical plays with players diving for loose balls, confrontations under the hoop and a painful head collision near the end of the game.
The Cougars took advantage of early turnovers against the Toreros, turning three turnovers into five points.
The turnovers offered much-needed scoring because, early on, BYU was shooting 2 for 10 and was dismal from beyond the arc.
At one point, the Cougars went four and a half minutes without a field goal.
BYU managed to keep the lead due to San Diego going 3 for 13 in the same time span.
The Cougars were a strong shooting team when it was standing on the free throw line, making 31 of its 40 throws.
Yoeli Childs was strong contributor for the Cougars with six boards by the midpoint of the first half.
With seven minutes left in the first half BYU found its stride, revving its engine for a 10-0 spurt that gave BYU a 10-point lead.
Fouls caused to San Diego’s Yauhen Massalski to be sent to the bench with fewer than eight minutes left in the half.
The Toreros, however, did not roll over and collapse for the Cougars.
Second-chance points kept the Toreros close to the Cougars in the game, at one point scoring eight points off of offensive rebounds.
The tides of the court would soon turn in favor of the Cougars.
BYU built a 14-point and successfully prevented San Diego from coming any closer than seven during the first half.
With 5:13 left in the half T.J. Haws earned his second foul, his much-needed play keeping him on the floor.
Right after his second foul, Haws quickly scored, pulled a foul, then made the free throw, to make a three-point play in his 100th consecutive start.
Haws was put on the bench for a time after scoring 13 of BYU’s first-half 41 points.
Childs was responsible for eleven points and nine rebounds before halftime.
BYU’s lead was dropped to seven after San Diego went 7-0 near the end the half.
Still, the Toreros were limited to 28% shooting in the first half.
The Cougars shot for an even 50% in the first half, going to the break at 32-41.
They rocketed out of the gate to begin the second half, striking a 15-point lead.
The Toreros opened the second half by shooting 8 for 10.
Childs scored his 21st point of the game and pulled the foul to put BYU up by 18.
San Diego’s Finn Sullivan scored five in a row to pull BYU’s lead down to 14.
BYU built a twenty-point lead only to see it deteriorate to a nine-point lead with 4:05 to go when BYU’s stars went cold and San Diego went on a 17-4 run.
Haws appeared to suffer an injury late in the game on contested play. A head collision with a San Diego’s Isaiah Wright brought Haws down, but Haws got up shortly thereafter.
Childs took the two foul shots for Haws to put the Cougars up by seven with just over 90 seconds left in the game.
Soon after, Nick Emery took two foul shots to increase the lead to nine.
BYU held off a resurgence by San Diego to make it a Cougar victory, 87-73.
The Cougars scored on 51% of its field goals, making 42% from three-point range.
BYU moves to 19-12 on the year, 11-5 in conference.
Two seniors did not play for senior night in Provo.
BYU played without Gavin Baxter due to an illness.
LMU upset San Francisco on Saturday, allowing BYU to at least clinch the three-seed within the West Coast Conference.
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