I thought there was a really good feel for us tonight. ... I'm happy for our team when we have that feel that we had tonight. Guys shared the ball really well and connected well on defense. —BYU coach Dave Rose
PROVO — BYU returned to form Thursday night, handling visiting Santa Clara 80-58 to break a two-game losing skid. A couple of key runs in each half helped build big leads, with the Cougars finishing things off going away, scoring their second-straight blowout over the Broncos.
"For all of us, I think everyone was so antsy to play a game and get a bad taste out of their mouths," said BYU sophomore Dalton Nixon. "So that's what we really focused on."
Once again it was Yoeli Childs leading the way, with it becoming apparent he really likes matching up with the Broncos. About a month after providing arguably the most efficient game of his career, the 6-foot-8 sophomore proved about as effective, finishing with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. He also pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Childs was the beneficiary of good cuts and movement toward the basket by teammates without the ball, which opened lanes and led to easy baskets.
"I thought there was a really good feel for us tonight," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "...I'm happy for our team when we have that feel that we had tonight. Guys shared the ball really well and connected well on defense."
Junior guard Elijah Bryant was just about as efficient for the Cougars, scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc. Bryant's best play came in the second half after going into the half with only two points scored. He added eight rebounds and six assists to his tally, one game after enduring a rough outing in a loss to Gonzaga.
The Cougars struggled with the outside shot early, with the Broncos taking an early 16-11 lead, as a result. Just about everything was falling for the Broncos early, with four straight 3-point makes turning an 11-4 deficit into a five-point lead before the Cougars adjusted.
The adjustment appeared relatively simple: get the ball inside, and let the frontcourt advantage work. The Cougars did as much, with the next 20 points coming from inside the paint resulting in a quick 8-0 run and then a 31-25 lead as the first half wound down.
Breaking BYU’s streak of points inside the paint was Payton Dastrup, who hit a wide-open 3-pointer to extend the lead to nine points.
The Cougars finished the first half with just 2-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, but 15 of 23 from inside the paint, as strong cuts toward the basket led to many good looks and a 41-31 lead at the break. The Broncos cooled down considerably after making four straight 3-pointers and finished the half just 5 of 15 overall from behind the arc.
The second half seemed to follow suit, with the Broncos closing to within 50-45 before the Cougars responded with another significant run, this one for 13 straight points to extend the lead to 63-45. Dalton Nixon and Bryant started off the run by hitting consecutive 3-pointers with Childs finishing it off with a dunk.
Other keys to the game was bench play — particularly from Nixon who played 15 minutes and scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field.
"It felt good," Nixon said. "The bench just gave it their all tonight."
With the win, BYU improves to 19-7 overall and 8-5 in West Coast Conference play. Next up for the Cougars is another home game Saturday against San Francisco.