LAS VEGAS — BYU picked the wrong time to roll snake eyes in Las Vegas Saturday night.
It very well could have ended the Cougars’ season. It absolutely sent BYU back to Provo in disarray at 19-13.
BYU head coach Dave Rose is uncertain if the Cougars will be invited to the NIT or if the administration will even entertain any other available postseason opportunity like the CBI or CIT.
Isaiah Pineiro scored 27 points and was perfect 10 of 10 from the line to lead No. 7 seed San Diego (21-13) past No. 3 BYU 80-57 Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament in the Orleans Arena.
BYU made just 18 of 58 field goals and went 1 of 17 on 3-point shots attempted. The game ended with mostly BYU reserves going on a 15-1 run, pressing San Diego’s bench players in a game that was over after tipoff.
“It’s fun to watch these guys play right now,” said USD coach Sam Scholl.
“We were just in the moment and focused on getting stops,” said Pineiro. “We weren’t thinking of our offense.”
Meanwhile, what were the Cougars thinking? There was little offense and the defense allowed 80.
Rose credited San Diego’s hungry seniors for coming in motivated and getting on a roll. The Toreros did not play like a No. 7 seed.
“I think we got off to a rough start on both sides. We had a tough time corralling them. We contested quite a few shots but they were ready to roll. They get up by 15 and that really helped their confidence.”
Rose said BYU’s game plan was to drive it early but the Cougars ended up taking outside shots that would not hit. “We got our heads down, it’s something our team has had issues with this year, but thought we had grown through that.”
Rose said leading up to the game, he had no inkling his team would perform as it did. Practices were on target and so was preparation and attitude.
The Cougars came out arctic cold, and it's debatable if they actually came out at all. This was a San Diego team they’d swept during the regular season. BYU missed its first six shots from the field. On the other hand, the Toreros, who’d beat Santa Clara the night before, made their first five including a pair of treys from Utah transfer Isaiah Wright to lead 13-0 five minutes after tipoff.
And that was when it was close.
Then it got worse, a 44-point deficit kind of bad for Rose’s squad.
The Cougars came into the league tournament almost devoid of any offense. It was as if they’d simply forgot to pack it. BYU’s best offensive weapons, Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws, couldn’t buy a basket for most of the game.
Pineiro credited Wright for defending Haws tough. Childs scored his 14 in spurts then exited early.
It didn’t seem to matter where Haws tried to score from, it might as well have been Boulder Dam, he was that far off. He missed treys, jumpers, runners and a layup. If one didn’t know better he might have been playing "Bird Box," blindfolded.
In the first half, San Diego players just popped in 3-pointers at will and reserve Joey Calcaterra made a one-handed underhand drive from outside the box. It was two different teams that went to the locker room. BYU’s players walked humiliated. San Diego’s guys were on parade.
Late in that disastrous first half, BYU went 0 of 5 from the free throw line with nobody in their faces guarding them. You couldn’t write a more ugly script for BYU as they went out the portal. They were down 46-19.
The horrible start came from a squad that ranked No. 2 in the WCC in scoring at 79.7 a game. Only No. 1 ranked Gonzaga was more potent this year. The struggle by Haws was mysterious since he scored 26 and 33 against San Diego in BYU’s two wins.
People say it’s hard to beat a team three times in a row, but this was a reversal of planetary proportions, the worst showing by a BYU team in a league tournament I can remember, and I’ve been covering sports since shirts took on skins in the Roman Colosseum.
St. Mary’s beat BYU at this event a few years ago 81-50. This felt worse.94 comments on this story
It was a loss that kept the Cougars from extending a school record 13 straight 20-win seasons if this nightmare performance is the last of the year and the NIT doesn’t come calling.
If Childs leaves early to turn professional, which is the expectation, his final game in a Cougar uniform couldn’t have been more forgettable. Childs earned a technical foul in the second half protesting a no-call when he missed a contested shot under BYU’s basket with 12:25 left in the game and San Diego up by about 40.
Childs, an all-WCC performer, never returned to the court.
Not a scene you want to see to end a season — or a game.