PROVO — Going into Saturday’s game at San Francisco, BYU was coming off a 16-point loss at Pepperdine and forward Yoeli Childs was looking for a little redemption for his team and for himself.
Childs played only 16 minutes and scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out at Pepperdine.
Against the Dons, Childs notched career highs in points (23) and rebounds (17) to go along with three blocks in 39 minutes of action.
What got into him at War Memorial Gym?
“It’s actually a weird story, I’m not going to lie,” Childs explained. “Usually before games, and I don’t know if it’s a normal thing to do, but I pray for basketball stuff. I don’t know if that’s good. I’m like, ‘Please let the rebounds come my way, something like that.’ Before this game, I said, ‘Please just let me play as hard as I can and not get fouls.’ It got answered. I got zero fouls and I felt like I played pretty hard and our team played hard.”
The Cougars defeated San Francisco 68-52 to capture sole possession of third place in the West Coast Conference standings.
BYU coach Dave Rose challenged both Childs and Eric Mika prior to Saturday’s game. “We need them on the floor,” Rose said.
Mika played only 22 minutes against Pepperdine and 26 minutes against San Francisco.
Of Childs’ performance, Rose said, “That’s a big night. A lot of our guys have had big nights here.”
Indeed — in 2012, former Cougar Matt Carlino scored a career-high 30 points at War Memorial and one year ago, Nick Emery poured in a career-high 37 at USF.
Saturday was Childs’ turn.
Childs was 10 of 16 from the floor and 3 of 8 from the free-throw line. He knocked down some mid-range jumpers, something he hasn’t done much of this season.
“He was good at that in high school,” Rose said. “We haven’t really stretched him out because we have a lot of perimeter shooters and we need him at the rim. But (Saturday), it was so obvious that they weren’t going to guard him. They let him shoot it.”
“We tweaked the offense a little bit,” Childs said. “The coaches and my teammates said to keep shooting. They gave me a lot of confidence.”
Meanwhile, senior guard L.J. Rose underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Friday.
“It went great. He was home yesterday after the surgery,” Dave Rose said. “We texted back and forth and we’ll get him back in town. They did (the procedure) in Houston. He’ll be back for Senior Night (next Saturday).”
The Cougars will host San Diego (11-15, 4-10) Thursday night (9 p.m. MST, ESPNU). The Toreros fell at home to Pepperdine Saturday, 65-60.
On Saturday, BYU entertains No. 20 Saint Mary’s in the regular-season home finale.
The Gaels (22-3, 12-2) lost at home to No. 1 Gonzaga, 74-64, last Saturday.
Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, the Cougars are still learning about themselves while dealing with personnel issues.
“It seems like the transition should be a lot smoother. But you’re dealing with a (team) that’s still trying to find itself,” Dave Rose said. “You bring a guy like Kyle Davis in and then take Kyle Davis out. You put Yoeli in and then you bring (Elijah Bryant) in and bring him out and then bring him back in again. Then you lose your point guard with a really inexperienced group. Everybody’s trying to reinvent themselves a little bit. I think we learned a lot from watching us against Pepperdine and playing tonight. Hopefully we can progress a lot this week.”