We just weren’t playing as a team. It was pretty obvious. We were all trying to do it ourselves. —BYU guard Elijah Bryant
PROVO — BYU coach Dave Rose expected a better effort from his team.
The Cougars lost at Pacific last Saturday 67-66 in a performance that was lacking both offensively and defensively.
“We’ve just got to be better for two halves,” Rose said afterward. “We had a great shootaround (Saturday) and guys seemed to be really dialed in on the game plan.”
Early on, BYU hit six of its first seven shots from the floor and jumped out to a 14-7 lead — but that didn’t last long.
The Tigers outscored the Cougars 29-15 the rest of the half. Pacific shot 57 percent in the first half.
“Our effort in the first half was so individual and we were not emotionally connected. In our execution we weren’t connected on the floor,” Rose said. “We took quick outside shots. Defensively, we turned them on and let them get going. Emotions are a big part of this game. It’s hard to shut them down. I thought in the second half we responded pretty well. But it came down to the last play, and we couldn’t make it.”
BYU rallied and led by as many as four points a couple of times in the second half, but the Cougars couldn’t pull away.
Zac Seljaas drilled what could have been a game-winning 3-pointer at the end — but it was disallowed because it came just after the final buzzer.
The Cougars split their weekend road trip, which included a 69-59 victory at San Francisco last Thursday. With Saturday's setback, BYU fell to 13-4 overall and 2-2 in the West Coast Conference.
The Cougars hosts Pepperdine Thursday night. The Waves dropped to 3-13 and 0-4 after losing at home to San Francisco 80-67 Saturday.
At Pacific, Elijah Bryant scored a game-high 29 points, knocking down 10 of 15 shots from the field and hitting 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
“We just weren’t playing as a team. It was pretty obvious,” Bryant said. “We were all trying to do it ourselves.”
As a team, the Cougars shot 47 percent from the floor. Yoeli Childs scored 13 points on 4 of 13 shots while TJ Haws was 3 of 10 and finished with seven points. Luke Worthington was 3 of 3 with nine points and Jahshire Hardnett was 2 of 5 with six points.
BYU recorded 11 assists on 22 made field goals and had 11 turnovers.
Defensively, the Cougars allowed Pacific to shoot 52 percent. Tiger forward Jahlil Tripp, who entered the game averaging 9.3 points per game, poured in 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting.
Rose knew going into the game that Tripp was a dangerous player.
“I watched him play in junior college. He’s a really good athlete and a really good finisher,” Rose said. “He had a great game Thursday night at Saint Mary’s. We just needed to do a better job at cutting him off and make him jump up and make shots. He got so many shots at the rim where he was able to just kiss it right off the glass.”
Meanwhile, Miles Reynolds scored 16 points and Kendall Small added 10 for the Tigers.
“We get everyone’s best shot,” Bryant said. “It’s what we ask for when we put this jersey on.”
For Tripp and Pacific, it was a memorable victory.
“It’s definitely sweet,” Tripp told the Stockton Record. “Coming into the program I knew it was one of the three top teams we were coming to play. Coach (Damon Stoudamire) said to put our heads down and try to make a play, and that’s what we did all game. This is going to carry on with me as long as I’m here, and I know the fans, coaches and players will remember it. I’m just real happy right now.”
“We know how important home court is in this league, and we know BYU is a great team at the top,” Reynolds said. “We kept our defense going the whole game, and we got some good looks down in the second half. I’m just proud of our guys the way we fought.”
For BYU, it’s back to basics — playing better on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
“We have to learn from it,” Seljaas said of Saturday's loss, “and take the positives and learn from the negatives.”