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AP
Brigham Young guard TJ Haws, right, drives to the basket as San Diego forward Isaiah Pineiro, left, and guard Finn Sullivan, center, defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

BYU 88, San Diego 82 (OT)

SAN DIEGO — BYU has suffered a lot of tough losses here at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

But the Cougars avoided a heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day by rallying from a 14-point second-half deficit and earning a dramatic 88-82 overtime victory over San Diego Thursday night.

It marked BYU’s biggest comeback of the season and its first overtime victory of the year.

“It’s incredible, especially in this place against these guys. I hadn’t beaten them here yet so that was huge for us,” said forward Yoeli Childs, who scored 27 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. “Just the resolve we had was unbelievable. We’ve improved so much. We looked at ourselves and said, ‘We’ve been here before.’ We took overtime losses in preseason. We knew what we had to do to get it done. Guys stepped up and made big shots. San Diego did as well. They’re a tough team. It could have gone either way. But I was proud of the way we stepped up.”

" TJ took control of the game. "
BYU coach Dave Rose

Guard TJ Haws scored a career-high 35 points on 11 of 18 shooting from the field, including three 3-pointers, and drilled 10 of 11 from the free-throw line on a night where the rest of the team struggled from the charity stripe. Haws also dished out seven assists.

“TJ took control of the game,” said coach Dave Rose. “He got the ball to Yoeli when we needed to and Yoeli got some big baskets for us late. Those were all from TJ feeding him. He just took control.”

Haws nailed a 16-footer with 33 seconds remaining to put the Cougars up 74-73.

“That’s what TJ has done his whole life,” Childs said. “He’s a guy that wants the big shot and he steps up in big moments. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

San Diego’s Isaiah Wright scored a layup with two seconds left to force overtime.

USD jumped ahead 77-75 in OT but then BYU scored seven straight points, including five by Childs,\ and the Cougars held on for the win.

“I hadn’t won in here yet so that feels super great to get a win in here,” Haws said. “I’m proud of these guys for fighting until the end. They got up on us early and we kept battling.”

BYU fell behind by 14 in the first half and trailed again in the second half, 51-37, with a little less than 17 minutes left in regulation.

For San Diego, it marked just its second home loss of the season.

“It’s obviously a huge win for us. It puts us in a better spot (in conference play). Not very many teams come in here and win. It’s a good win for us,” said coach Dave Rose. “The way that we battled back, after such a quick start for them. They hit 3s. But our guys had good resolve. To overcome the misfortune of missing free throws, it’s a good confidence-builder for the guys. We needed an overtime win. We’ve had some mishaps in December in overtime.”

Despite the impressive comeback, BYU missed six free throws over the final three minutes of regulation, allowing USD to force the game into OT.

“When you’re missing free throws like that it’s hard to win the game. We’re lucky to come out with the win,” Childs said.

AP
Brigham Young forward Yoeli Childs shoots during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

BYU took its first lead of the game with 4:23 remaining on a 3-pointer by McKay Cannon, who scored 10 points, had four assists and three steals.

The Cougars improved to 17-10 overall and 9-3 in the West Coast Conference, maintaining its hold on second place in the standings. USD fell to 16-10 and 5-6.

San Diego jumped out to a big lead early as Torero forward Yauhen Massalski scored six quick points. Then the Toreros drilled a flurry of 3-pointers — six over the first eight minutes, including four by Olin Carter III, who finished with 20 points and five 3s.

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USD led by as many as 14 in the first half, 24-10, and it appeared the Toreros were going to run away from BYU.

But the Cougars responded with a 13-4 run over the next seven minutes, highlighted by Childs’ back-to-back 3-pointers.

Childs’ last 3 of the half pulled BYU to within 28-23. But USD maintained its lead. With 32 seconds left in the half, Pineiro hit a 3 and the Toreros took a 39-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Over the first 20 minutes, San Diego hit 7 of 15 3-pointers. Childs had a game-high 15 points at intermission.

BYU visits Loyola Marymount Saturday.