Provo • BYU had yet to lose consecutive games and had won the last eight straight at home, so the Cougars were looking to respond from their baffling loss last weekend at San Francisco.
It seemed like those problems were fixed, yet BYU found itself in a familiar spot, struggling to hold on to a large early lead – but at least that was during the first half, allowing the Cougars to recover.
And that they did.
BYU went on to score a season high in the 107-80 win over Pepperdine on Thursday at the Marriott Center.
“That first half felt a lot like the San Francisco game – that was super disappointing,” senior Yoeli Childs said. “We jumped out to an early lead. It looked like we were playing comfortable, we let them get back into it and we were really fired up at halftime about learning from our past mistakes and not letting one loss turn into two.”
After Pepperdine’s leading scorer Colbey Ross was sidelined three minutes in for getting two early fouls and having two turnovers, the Cougars went on a 17-0 run to lead 22-5. The Waves’ nearly five-minute drought was finally broken on a jumper by Skylar Chavez, but the Cougars continued dictating the pace.
That is, until the current changed.
With their then-largest lead of the game, 36-14, the Cougars went on to miss the next five attempts while Pepperdine put together a 16-0 run.
BYU woke up in time to be competitive the last few minutes of the half and went into halftime with a 46-38 lead.
BYU outscored Pepperdine 10-2 in the first two minutes of the second half, forcing the Waves to call a timeout.The Cougars would go on to outscore the Waves 18-5 in the first four minutes, helped by 4-of-4 shooting from the 3-point line.
“We all just kind of had the same mindset,” Childs said. “Everyone was echoing the same thing, just 'who are we?' Are we going to show that we're a team that grows and a team that learns from mistakes and a team that gets better? It was said, are we going to be an elite team that's going to go to the NCAA Tournament and make a run or are we just going to be a really good team? I think we proved tonight that we're capable of growth and we're going to continue to grow.”
Pepperdine started getting more aggressive during the second half – at one point Darryl Polk Jr. came up from behind Childs only to rip the ball out of the Cougar’s hands and assist Kessler Edwards on a breakaway layup. But the aggressiveness eventually got the Waves in a little bit of trouble.
Later in the game, as Dalton Nixon was bringing down an offensive rebound, Sedrick Altman tried getting in the action and got tangled up with TJ Haws. Altman ended up knocking down Haws, landing himself a personal foul and a technical.
But things settled down, Haws made his two free-throw attempts and the Cougars cruised to their win.
Jake Toolson led the Cougars with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 7 of 10 from beyond the arc. Toolson’s seven 3-pointers made and 10 3-point attempts are both career highs. It is Toolson’s 11th game this season making three-plus 3-pointers.
“He's a star,” coach Mark Pope said. “I mean, he's an All-American player. He is one of the premier shooters in the country and he is trying to take an increasing leadership role on this team every game. I was really happy with him.”
Childs followed with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Cougars’ 17 made 3s tied the program single-game record.