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Yoeli Childs leads way as BYU tops Pepperdine, earns No. 2 seed in WCC tourney

BYU forward Yoeli Childs (23) dunks next to Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Malibu, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

No. 17 BYU went to Malibu expecting a battle against Pepperdine in Saturday’s regular-season finale, but Yoeli Childs took it upon himself to make sure the Cougars still came out on top.

The senior scored a career-high 38 points to lead BYU to an 81-64 win over the Waves.

BYU spoiled Pepperdine’s senior night festivities as the Cougars rolled to their ninth straight win and improved to 24-7 overall, 13-3 in league play. With the win, BYU locked up the No. 2 seed at the West Coast Conference tournament and earned a triple-bye into the semifinals.

“Pepperdine is a very good team,” Childs said during the BYU Sports Network post-game interview. “They’ve had a lot of ups and downs and the the way that they can score the ball and move it and their versatility on the offense is scary. I thought we did a good job of coming out and being prepared and fighting ... even when we weren’t really ourselves in the first half.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, BYU had split its games (5-5) at Firestone Fieldhouse since joining the WCC. Before leaving for the game, coach Mark Pope acknowledged that BYU has found it difficult to play there – and this game proved no different.

BYU 81, PEPPERDINE 64


• No. 17 BYU closes out the regular season with an 81-64 win at Pepperdine.

• Yoeli Childs scores season-high 38 points on 63% shooting, and makes it a double-double with 14 rebounds.

• The Cougars lock up a No. 2 seed in the West Coast Conference tournament and earn a triple-bye into the semifinals.

Pepperdine set the pace in the first half, getting on the board first and immediately recovering from a 13-2 BYU run with a 6-0 run of its own.

While BYU did a good job of defending Pepperdine’s leading scorer, Colbey Ross, in the first half, allowing only three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field, it left Kessler Edwards open to lead the charge. Edwards dropped in 18 points in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Waves knew they had to keep the top 3-point shooting team in the nation away from shooting the long shots, and succeeded. The Cougars went 3 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half as Pepperdine went into halftime with a 35-32 advantage.

“The overwhelming feeling was ‘this is what we do and we fight through adversity,’” Childs said. “Coach Pope talks all the time about fighting through adversity and fighting through frustration. The talk at halftime was ‘well, we said it wouldn’t be easy.’ We knew it was going to be a hard game and it was going to be a dogfight. I think having that mindset brings confidence no matter what situation we’re in — whether we’re up or we’re down — we’re just ready to go fight.”

Pepperdine’s Skylar Chavez scored nine straight points for the Waves on three 3-pointers to try to keep Pepperdine in the race, but Zac Seljaas came in to disrupt the Waves and responded to each shot from Chavez with his own, scoring 10 points in a row.

Seljaas provided the necessary momentum to help the Cougars put the game away.

“The fact that they came in here and competed the way they did is a testament to their insides,” Pope said in the BYU Sports Network post-game interview. "I couldn’t be prouder of them and I couldn’t be happier for them. This is a special group.”

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