PROVO — On a night where BYU’s second-leading scorer, TJ Haws, couldn’t lease or rent a basket for most of the game, and on a night where the contest featuring a physical Pacific team resembled a rugby match at times, the Cougars made key plays and shut down the Tigers down the stretch.
Over the final seven minutes, BYU held Pacific without a field goal and was able to grind out a 69-59 victory in front of a crowd of 11,406 at the Marriott Center Saturday night.
“A dogfight. That’s how it always is when you play those guys,” said forward Yoeli Childs, who recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. “They kind of muck the game up a little bit. They don’t try to beat you on skill, they try to beat you more on just being physical. They really come in and try to punk you. We did a good job of matching their physicality and their intensity. I’m proud of the way everybody fought.”
Connor Harding came off the bench to score 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
With the win, the Cougars (16-10, 8-3) remained in second place in the West Coast Conference standings.
BYU won its third consecutive game but it was locked in a battle from start to finish.
With seven minutes remaining, Pacific's Kendall Small scored a layup that put pesky Pacific up 57-56. As it turned out, that would be the Tigers’ final field goal of the night as BYU went on attack defensively.
“The challenge was, you can’t just expect them to miss. We had to make plays on the defensive end,” said coach Dave Rose. “I thought Luke (Worthington) did a great job diving on a ball. Nick (Emery) got his hands on a ball. TJ got (a steal) from the blind side. You don’t want those games to come down to possession to possession with a two- or three-point lead. It was important to try to get a couple of stops and break it open and get a little separation in the score. Our guys were good at it.”
Haws, who was just 1 of 8 shooting from the field, came up with some big defensive plays in the game’s waning moments.
“TJ’s a great player and that’s what great players do. His offense wasn’t as good as it has been but he did a great job on the defensive end and playmaking,” Childs said. “He did a good job setting guys up. If your shots aren’t falling, a lot of guys go away. TJ didn’t go away tonight and that’s why he is who he is.”
“(Pacific) did a really good job of making him work for everything,” Rose said of Haws. “They had a second defender in his lane and made it tough for him to get space. He hung in there. He plays a lot of minutes. At a critical time, he made great defensive plays. Winning plays for us.”
BYU enjoyed an 11-0 run that began with a baskets by Gavin Baxter and a put-back by Worthington, followed by a 3-pointer by Emery and a Worthington put-back off a missed 3-point attempt by Emery.
Worthington played only 10 minutes but he was on the floor during crunch time.
“It was for his execution. The dude knows what we want to do and how to run it. He’s physical and he can really screen,” Rose said of Worthington. “But I wanted him on the defensive end, where I knew I was going to get a guy that was going to guard those ball screens. He’s one of our best post defenders in the pick and roll. Luke did a really good job on that. And you know when the ball’s on the floor, he’s diving on it. He’s going after it. The layup on the pick and roll was a bonus. The other things we kind of expect him to do. Big minutes late for him.”
The Tigers’ only scoring over the final seven minutes came on a couple of free throws by Roberto Gallinat with less than 40 seconds remaining.
Gallinat went to the free-throw line after a crazy scramble for the ball with about 40 seconds remaining. While Gallinat was on the floor, holding onto the ball, Emery jumped in to try to take the ball away. Gallinat shoved away Emery forcefully, sending Emery sprawling out of the scrum.17 comments on this story
Emery was whistled for a personal foul. After the officials checked the monitor, they called Gallinat for a technical foul.
“There’s a lot of heart and soul put into these games by both teams,” Rose said. “Both teams are engaged in this thing. You get to the end of a game and things aren’t going your way and there’s an aggressive play on the ball on the floor. You hate to see those kind of things happen but it was controlled pretty well. The officials did the best that they can.”
BYU visits San Diego next Thursday.