Another important road game in Southern California, another big come-from-behind win for the BYU Cougars.
Yoeli Childs led four Cougars in double figures with 18 points and BYU took a 70-62 win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon at Gertsen Pavilion in Los Angeles to complete the road sweep, having downed San Diego 88-82 in overtime on Thursday.
“This was a really big win,” BYU coach Dave Rose told the BYU radio sports network. “You need to really believe in your ability to win anywhere, and you gotta go on the road and win two games back-to-back [to contend for a league title],” and these guys were able to do that.”
The Cougars (10-3, 18-10) have now won five straight games and remain alone in second place in the West Coast Conference with three regular-season games remaining: at home against San Francisco on Thursday, at No. 3 Gonzaga on Saturday and the home finale on March 2 against San Diego.
“It is tremendous, the way our team is coming together,” junior forward Zac Seljaas said. “That was even better [than celebrating the USD win]. That was just fun.”
BYU 70, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 62
• The Cougars shoot 49 percent and overcome another double-digit deficit in the first half to down the Lions 70-62 and hold on to second place in the West Coast Conference
• Yoeli Childs scores 18 points and TJ Haws has a career-high eight assists in BYU’s fifth-straight win
• BYU holds LMU to no field goals in the game’s final nine minutes and uses a 14-0 run late to pull out the win
Loyola Marymount, which upset the Cougars at home last year, fell to 5-8 and 17-10.
The Lions led for more than 33 minutes of the game and had a 12-point lead in the first half and a 54-45 lead with 11 minutes remaining. They were up 56-50 when Petr Herman backed down Childs and laid in a shot with 8:57 left, then did not make another field goal the rest of the way.
“This win just bodes well for the time of year it is,” Rose said. “I think we can go in the last couple of weeks believing that we are playing our best.”
After Joe Quintana, who scored 14 points off the bench to power LMU’s attack, made two free throws with 7:31 remaining to give the Lions a 58-52 lead, BYU went on a 14-0 run to complete the second-straight comeback win.
The surge was powered by 3-pointers from Seljaas (who was 4 of 4 from deep) and Nick Emery and two possessions were kept alive when Gavin Baxter and Seljaas grabbed offensive rebounds.
“We knew it would be a battle,” said Seljaas, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two assists. “We just had to get out there and stay confident and knock down shots.”
Rose said the offensive rebound that Baxter corralled — that led to Seljaas’ 3-pointer from the top of the key — was “the biggest play of the game.”
Junior guard TJ Haws, who was coming off a career-high 35 points against San Diego, didn’t score until 1:53 remained in the first half. But he made six straight free throws in the final 48 seconds and finished with 13 points and a career-high eight assists.
“To be able to go in that locker room after a big team win, it feels good,” Rose said. “It happened the other night and it happened here. I am really happy for the guys, because of the feeling they have right now. It is really fun for them, and they have a lot of confidence.”
The Cougars nearly coughed up the USD game because they couldn’t make free throws in the final minutes of regulation, but not so in this matinee affair near Hollywood. After missing their first three free throws, they made their final 18, including a perfect 15-for-15 in the second half.
“We just have this tightness together and we believe in each other,” Seljaas said. “We just have this bond off the court. We make sure nobody is left out. And on the court, that bond comes through and it helps us a lot."