PROVO — Apparently there is something that can slow BYU’s Yoeli Childs — an illness.
Childs, who was feeling under the weather Wednesday night, saw his streak of three straight games of scoring 31 points come to an end at the Marriott Center as he finished with a season-low 13 points in 24 minutes of play.
Fortunately for the Cougars, TJ Haws filled that void by pouring in a career-high 30 points in an 85-66 victory over Portland State.
“It’s hard when Yoeli’s not at full strength,” Haws said. “But I thought he battled tonight. We just shared the ball really well and the guys hit big shots.”
Nobody hit shots like Haws, who drilled 5 of 10 from 3-point territory and 9 of 15 overall from the floor.
“It was a fun night for me. It’s good to see the ball go through the hoop,” Haws said. “I’m feeling very confident right now. Hopefully we can keep this thing going.”
“What was really good was he actually made some 3-pointers,” said coach Dave Rose of Haws. “You take him off the chart and we’re 2 for 11 (from 3). That’s what’s available. When we broke the front end of that press, we were going to end up with uncontested 3-point shots. We missed our first six or seven. They’re all good shots. We just need to make more.”
Portland State’s unconventional style of play, featuring full-court presses and half-court traps, and an emphasis on crashing the boards, gave the Cougars some trouble at times.
With less than 13 minutes left in the game, the Vikings (5-4) trailed by just seven points, 55-48. Then Haws drilled back-to-back 3-pointers that gave BYU (8-4) a double-digit lead again.
What kept Portland State in the game was grabbing 56 boards, including 28 on the offensive end. The Vikings scored 23 second-chance points.
“It’s not very often that you get out-rebounded like we did,” Rose said. “You get out-rebounded by 24 and you win a game by 19 points? You don’t see that very often.”
“Looking at all of their games, that’s what they do,” said guard Zac Seljaas, who finished with 11 points. “That’s their whole game — everyone crashing, everyone getting a rebound. They’re all going for it. We knew it was coming. We had to be able to box out and be able to get it.”
To deal with PSU’s press, Rose played smaller lineups, which impacted BYU’s ability to rebound.
“It’s quite a unique style that they play. Our No. 1 goal was to play the game without a turnover. We played different lineups and that made us not as comfortable on the offensive end although we handled their press well,” Rose said. “The downside is, obviously, it was real challenging lineups to rebound. They came in and dominated the offensive boards. They’re really active.”
Portland State coach Barret Peery, a Utah native, got a team-high 14 points from guard Derek Brown and his team played with intensity throughout.
“One thing about Barret’s teams that I’ve always been impressed with is, they press for 40 minutes with the same amount of energy,” Rose said. “You don’t see a lot of lapses. They were good.”
Portland State had 21 turnovers while BYU had 12. The Cougars scored 32 points off of turnovers.
The Vikings played BYU tight through the first 10 minutes of the game. They trailed by just one point, 22-21, midway through the half before BYU went on a 16-0 run that included a seven-point play by Haws.
A double technical on PSU’s Michael Mayhew and Juwan Williams during that stretch gave Haws four consecutive free throws. Moments later, Haws scored an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Cougars up 38-21 with 5:26 remaining in the first half.9 comments on this story
That spurt “alleviated maybe some of the frustration and gave us a lot more confidence in our ability to execute,” Rose said. “When the score separates a little bit, it can do one of two things to you. It can make you relax and not play as hard or it just makes you more confident.”
“I thought the second half we had a little more energy on defense," Haws said. "But with a team like that when they press for 40 minutes, it takes us being unselfish and I thought we were tonight and we made the extra pass and knocked down easy shots.”
Wednesday’s game marked BYU’s final home game of the calendar year. The Cougars won’t play here again until Jan. 10 in a West Coast Conference game against Portland.
BYU takes on UNLV at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Saturday.