I don’t know which is uglier, the stat sheet or the actual game itself. —BYU coach Dave Rose
LOS ANGELES — The past two times the BYU Cougars visited Gersten Pavilion, they had to rally from double-digit deficits to beat Loyola Marymount.
Thursday night, BYU followed that same pattern of getting down big but this time the Cougars couldn’t complete the comeback as the Lions, who entered the night tied for last place in the West Coast Conference standings, recorded a surprising 76-69 victory.
LMU had three players score in double figures — James Batemon (28 points), Eli Scott (19) and Zafir Williams (12) and it forced BYU into 16 turnovers. The opportunistic Lions scored 24 points off those turnovers in just their second league win of the season.
“I don’t know which is uglier, the stat sheet or the actual game itself," said coach Dave Rose. “We had a hard time guarding them. We knew the matchup would be really tough because of how they play. The two guys, Scott and Batemon, are really good isolation, one-on-one guys. They did a good job of spreading us out and driving us. We turned the ball over early and they just got it straight to the front of the rim and scored on us. We were playing from behind the whole time.”
The Cougars shot a miserable 5 of 24 from 3-point range and missed 12 in a row at one point.
LMU led by as many as 16 in the second half. Two years ago, BYU rallied from a 15-point deficit and last year the Cougars fell behind by 18 before earning a close win.
When the two teams played a few weeks ago in Provo, the Lions outscored the Cougars in the second half, 38-36, though BYU won, 82-67.
“Anytime you have a style that works and you see success like they saw in the second half against us at home, that’s style’s going to translate, especially when you have confidence," said guard McKay Cannon. "That’s the main thing I saw tonight — they were a lot more confident than us and we were on our heels. They were out to get us. That’s on us. We need to be better prepared.”
With the win, LMU snapped a 10-game losing streak against BYU. The Cougars’ last loss to the Lions was on Dec. 28, 2013.
BYU was led by Elijah Bryant (24 points) and Yoeli Childs (15 points). Childs also pulled down 13 rebounds.
Down by 16 points with 12 minutes remaining in the game, the Cougars battled back and, thanks to an 11-2 run, clawed their way to within five points, 62-57 with six minutes remaining.
BYU cut the deficit to five again, 67-62, at the 3:22 mark. But that was as close as the Cougars would get.
BYU fell to 18-6 overall and 7-4 in the WCC while LMU improved to 7-15 and 2-9.
The Lions built an early lead with a 12-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Batemon. Down 25-16, the Cougars responded with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 25-22.
With 11:04 left in the half, Payton Dastrup came into game and in just three minutes, Dastrup recorded 2 points, a couple of rebounds and an assist. On one possession, Dastrup had three blocks.
Still, the Lions kept attacking BYU with an aggressive defense and by forcing turnovers.
LMU extended its advantage to as many as 12 as the Cougars struggled to contain Scott and Batemon.
“You let them get going, they’re really, really good," Childs said. "You let them turn you over and get on the offensive glass like they did tonight, they’re a good team. From the get-go, they were more physical than us and they played harder than us. We didn’t come ready to play.”
A key moment was with 6:20 remaining in the half when Bryant slashed to the hoop for a layup and absorbed a hit to the face and went down hard to the floor, where he remained for several minutes. He was attended to by trainer Rob Ramos, returned to the bench and didn’t play the rest of the half.
BYU didn’t score a field goal over the final 4:30 of the first half. The Cougars shot 44 percent in the first half (including 3 of 13 from 3-point range) compared to 50 percent for LMU.
At halftime, the Lions led 42-31 as Batemon (16) and Scott (14) combined for 30 first-half points.
BYU had nine turnovers in the first half and the Lions outscored the Cougars 16-2 on points off turnovers.
“We weren’t comfortable out there," Cannon said. "It was tough for us to find a groove between being aggressive and pulling it back. They had us all sorts of confused and out of sorts.”
BYU visits No. 14 Gonzaga Saturday.
TIP-INS: Bryant has made a 3-pointer in 24 games in a row, the third-longest streak in a single-season in BYU history The Cougars shot 46 percent compared to 44 percent for LMU.