SAN DIEGO – BYU men’s basketball fell 90-81 to former Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State in Viejas Arena on Saturday.
“We’ve played the last 60-80 minutes of basketball from behind and that’s different for us,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We finally got the game to a point where we could execute and cut the lead down, but they hit some timely shots. We’ve got a real challenge going forward to find the right group that can be consistent every night.”
TJ Haws led the Cougars with 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field while also adding five assists. Three other Cougars scored in the double digits with Jahshire Hardnett contributing 12 points, Yoeli Childs scoring 11 points and Luke Worthington recording a season-high 11 points while also grabbing five rebounds.
Connor Harding and Hardnett knocked down 3-point jumpers on back-to-back possessions to give BYU (8-6) an early 6-4 lead. Yoeli Childs ended a six-point San Diego State (7-4) run scoring three points the old-fashioned way with a layup and a free throw to close the score to 10-9. The Aztecs capitalized on a pair of Cougar turnovers on its way to extend the lead to 18-9.
Childs hit a jumper to temporarily stop the bleeding before the Aztecs continued their hot shooting, including scoring six of seven 3-point attempts, to stretch their lead to 20 points with a score of 33-13.
McKay Cannon and Harding each scored from behind the arc to help lead the Cougars on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 33-21 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
Both teams traded baskets with BYU failing to close the gap to single digits before San Diego State reclaimed an 18-point advantage 49-31 with 3:30 left in the period. Childs scored a pair of free throws to start a seven-point run that Kolby Lee capped off with a 3-point make from the corner to bring the Cougars within 11 points 49-38.
BYU entered halftime trailing 52-38 after turning the ball over 14 times in the period while the Aztecs shot 51.4 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from behind the arc.
Haws opened the second half with five points after being fouled on back-to-back made layups and scoring one of the two free throws to bring the Cougars back within 11 points 54-43. Childs ended an 8-2 San Diego State run with a one-handed jam on a fast break to make the score 62-47.
Layups from Haws and Nick Emery along with a hook shot from Worthington cut the Aztec lead to 65-53 with 14 minutes left in the game. After a San Diego State 3-point basket, Worthington grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on a layup for a three-point play.
Emery knocked down a shot from downtown on the following possession to close the gap to single digits for the first time since 14:22 in the first half with a score 68-59.
The Aztecs quickly reclaimed the double-digit lead at 74-61 with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions with 10:17 left in the game. The teams exchanged baskets with Worthington scoring twice for the Cougars before Emery stole the ball and scored a quick layup to bring the score to 78-67.
Rylan Bergersen brought the score within 10 points 80-70 with 4:45 on the clock. San Diego State answered by outscoring the Cougars 10-3 to claim an 88-73 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. BYU cut the lead to eight points with 33 seconds left in the game after a 3-point bucket from Hardnett before eventually falling to San Diego State 90-81
The Cougars finish up nonconference play at Mississippi State on Saturday, Dec. 29, in the Humphrey Coliseum at 11 a.m. CST. The game will be televised on ESPNU and audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Sports Network, BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM) and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
Luke Worthington hit 5 of 7 from the field for a season-best 11 points, his fourth career game with double-digit points.
TJ Haws scored 18 points, his fifth-straight game with 18-plus points. He also added five assists, his ninth game with five-plus assists.
Yoeli Childs had 11 points, his 20th-straight game dating back to last season scoring in double figures.
Jahshire Hardnett scored 12 points, his seventh game this season in double figures.
Connor Harding hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie his career high.