Coach was joking with me about it. He said, 'You'll always remember on your birthday when I took your triple-double away from you. —Yoeli Childs
SANTA CLARA, California — On BYU forward Yoeli Childs’ 20th birthday, he almost gave himself a memorable present — a triple-double — against Santa Clara.
While Childs missed out on that milestone — he scored 22 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and a dished out a career-high eight assists — he’ll happily take the overwhelming 84-50 victory over Santa Clara Saturday night in what was the Cougars’ best overall performance of the season.
“As far as a 40-minute game to continually stay connected and stay with our game plan and continue to rely on each other,” said coach Dave Rose, “it might have been as good as I’ve seen from our guys.”
It was Rose that prevented Childs from reaching a triple-double because he took him out with plenty of time remaining in the game before a crowd of 3,369 at the Leavey Center.
“Coach was joking with me about it,” Childs said. “He said, ‘You’ll always remember on your birthday when I took your triple-double away from you.’ It’s all good. I’m sure I’ll have one eventually.”
“I sure would have loved for him to have stayed in there and get a couple of more assists,” Rose said. “He played great on his birthday, huh? It should be his birthday every night, with the way he played tonight.”
As a team, BYU was nearly flawless, jumping out to an 18-point first half lead while scorching the nets for 79 percent from the field. From there, the Cougars cruised.
BYU led by as many as 38 in the second half. With 14:07 left in the game, the Cougars were 25 of 33 (75.8 percent) from the field and finished the game shooting 62 percent (32 of 52). They also recorded a season-high 26 assists.
“Our team’s kind of built for when there’s two defenders on the ball, to make the extra pass. It’s almost like a double team," Childs said. "We moved the ball and we made plays. It’s a tough matchup."
“Sometimes when you play that way, it’s kind of contagious,” Rose said. “The key was we were sharing the ball. They were getting two (defenders) on the ball on every ball screen. Sometimes when that happens, it’s really effective we got the ball to the right spot and we had an advantage. They guys really shared the ball.”
Childs liked the way BYU played a complete game.
“Coach just talked about it. A lot of times, we have little five-minute spurts or seven-minute spurts where we’re all locked in and playing together,” Childs said. “Tonight, we had about 38 minutes where we played together and played for each other.”
In the second half, even though the Cougars’ shooting cooled down considerably, the Broncos suffered through an abysmal shooting drought, missed 16 straight shots and went more than 12 minutes without a field goal.
BYU guard Jahshire Hardnett limited Santa Clara’s top scorer, KJ Feagin, to nine points on 3 of 11 shooting.
“That was a great defensive effort against a guy that’s caused us problems,” Rose said.
Santa Clara shot 34 percent as a team, including 26 percent in the second half.
The Cougars improved to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in West Coast Conference play while the Broncos dropped to 6-12 and 3-3.
For BYU, the first half couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The Cougars made 14 of their first 16 shots from the field. The game was tied at 11 before BYU went on a 25-7 run to seize a 36-18 advantage after a 3-pointer by TJ Haws, who drilled four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
“I thought we were really connected on both ends of the floor,” Haws said. “We guarded really well and helped each other defensively.”
Over the first eight minutes of the game, Childs had dropped in 13 points and, with three assists, was responsible for either scoring or assisting on the Cougars’ first 19 points.
At halftime, BYU led 46-28 and had hit 19 of 24 shots from the floor and 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Because the Cougars weren’t missing shots, they held a massive 19-2 rebounding advantage in the first half.
Childs led all scorers at intermission with 17 points and had six assists and six rebounds.
After the game, Childs was asked if his teammates did anything special for him on his birthday.
“Nothing special,” he said. “They got the win for me.”
BYU hosts Loyola Marymount on Thursday.