Provo • It is not often that a college basketball team grabs 24 more rebounds than its opponent and still loses by 19 points, but Portland State doesn’t play like an average college basketball team.
“Interesting game,” said BYU coach Dave Rose after the Cougars walloped the visiting Vikings 85-66 in front of an announced crowd of 11,563 at the Marriott Center Wednesday night. “Quite a unique style that they play.”
BYU 85, Portland State 66
• TJ Haws scores a career-high 30 points on 9 of 15 shooting and BYU buries Portland State at the Marriott Center
• The visiting Vikings grab 28 offensive rebounds, which they turn into 23 second-chance points
• BYU has now won three straight games after dropping three straight and is 8-4.
The Vikings (5-4) pressed the entire 40 minutes, crashed the boards at both ends like their very lives depended on getting rebounds and tried to strip the ball away when they didn’t get the caroms. At times the strategy was effective, but most times it wasn’t, probably because Portland State shot just 31 percent and committed 21 turnovers.
The Vikings hauled in 28 offensive rebounds, but turned them into just 23 second-chance points.
“Yeah, looking at their games, that’s what they do,” said BYU forward Zac Seljaas. “Their whole game is everyone crashing, everyone getting a rebound. Offensive rebound, defensive, they are all going for them, all the time.”
Rose said they knew it was coming, and felt like his squad did an excellent job handling the press, which led to all kinds of easy baskets. The Cougars shot 47.5 percent, but more importantly had just 12 turnovers against a team that was forcing 21.5 per game.
“They came in here and put it on us on the boards,” Rose said, looking at the 56-32 rebounding disparity. “It is not very often that we get out-rebounded like we did … and win a game by 19 points? You don’t see that very often.”
Having scored 31 points in each of his last three games, BYU junior forward Yoeli Childs was ill earlier win the day and missed shootaround. He scored just 13 points and grabbed just six rebounds — both season-lows — in 24 minutes.
“Yo has got, we think some type of, we don’t really know. It is an illness,” Rose said. “He has had a sore throat and [was] not as physically strong as he usually is. But he wants to play. That’s the issue. He is a competitive guy. We tried to play him a few minutes less to save some energy for Saturday [against UNLV]. We will see if he can go. Only time will tell.”
Fellow junior TJ Haws was able to pick up the scoring slack.
Haws scored a career-high 30 points on 9 of 15 shooting, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
“It is hard when Yo is not at full strength. I thought he battled tonight. We just shared the ball really well and I thought other guys hit big shots,” Haws said. “It was a fun night for me. It is good to see the ball go through the hoop. I am feeling very confident right now. Hopefully we can keep this thing going.”
Derek Brown led PSU with 14 points.
BYU (8-4) pushed a 45-32 halftime lead to 55-39 with 16 minutes remaining, but the Vikings put together a 9-0 run and took advantage of a four-minute BYU scoring drought to get within seven. However, Haws hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the same spot on the floor to right the Cougars, who had been wobbling on offense. Nick Emery gave the Cougars a lift midway through the second half with five quick points, after having failed to score the last three halves before that.
Seljaas and Connor Harding added 11 apiece. The Cougars were 7 of 21 from 3-point range, but Seljaas and Emery were the only players not named Haws to connect from deep.
“We could have shot 40 [3-pointers] in this game,” Rose said. “They play with a real purpose defensively. We just didn’t want them dictating all of our shots. I wanted us to get the shots that we wanted even though there were a lot of other shots available out there.”
The Cougars play UNLV at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 5:30 p.m. MST Saturday.