Santa Clara, Calif. • Yoeli Childs turned 20 on Saturday, and then almost turned into former BYU star Kyle Collinsworth.
BYU’s 6-foot-8 forward celebrated his birthday by flirting with a triple-double and the Cougars rolled past Santa Clara 84-50 in front of 3,369 at Leavey Center. Childs had 22 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high eight assists and the Cougars played flawlessly to improve to 4-2 in West Coast Conference play, 15-4 overall.
“It should be his birthday every night,” said BYU coach Dave Rose.
Childs probably would have reached the milestone that Collinsworth made famous in Provo, but Rose took him out of the game with nine minutes, 15 seconds remaining and the Cougars leading 66-36.
“It is all good,” Childs said. “Coach was joking about it, saying, ‘Yoeli you will always remember on your birthday when I took a triple-double away from you.’ I am sure I will have one eventually. My teammates are too good. They make too many shots. I get the ball way too much for that not to happen eventually.”
The Cougars could afford to laugh and joke, because they dominated the Broncos (6-12, 3-3) from start to finish and got a measure of revenge for that puzzling 76-68 loss here last year in late January, a loss that snapped their 13-game winning streak over Santa Clara.
“Our guys were good,” Rose said. “I thought we were really good offensively the whole game and defensively after the first five or six minutes. I have said this a lot: Sometimes when you play that way it gets contagious. The key was sharing the ball.”
Elijah Bryant and TJ Haws added 14 points apiece and Zac Seljaas chipped in 11. Haws made his first five shots — four from 3-point range — and broke out of a mild shooting slump.
“Seeing that first one fall is really good for me,” Haws said. “I felt like I was going to shoot the ball well tonight.”
The Cougars played their best first half of the season and rolled out to a 46-28 lead at the break.
They shot 79 percent in the half (19 of 24) and outrebounded the Broncos 19-2 in the opening 20 minutes. They finished shooting 61.5 percent.
“We just made a lot of shots, I guess,” said Childs, explaining the rebounding disparity.
BYU made its first three shots of the second half — it was 22 of 27 at that point — and extended the lead to 55-31 on a three-point play by Bryant. Haws stayed hot, making a pair of 3-pointers to open the second half.
“TJ is the best player I have ever played with in terms of making the right decisions,” Childs said.
Wasatch Academy product Josip Vrankic led the Broncos with 20 points, but Santa Clara missed 16 straight shots in the second half and went more than 12 minutes without a field goal.
Rose challenged point guard Jahshire Hardnett to make life difficult for Santa Clara’s leading scorer, KJ Feagin, and he delivered.
“That is a kid who has caused us problems,” Rose said.
Not on this night. Feagin, an 18-point scorer, was just 3 of 11 and finished with nine points.
“As far as a 40-minute game, to continually stay connected, and stay with our game plan, and continue to rely on each other, it might be as good as I’ve seen from our guys,” Rose said.
Santa Clara stayed fairly close in the first half by making 5 of 10 3-point attempts, but cooled off from there, too, and finished shooting 34 percent.
“I thought we were really connected on both ends of the floor,” Haws said.
Up next for the Cougars is a two-game homestand against Loyola Marymount and San Diego on Thursday and Saturday.