MALIBU, Calif. – A career night by TJ Haws led the BYU men's basketball team to an 87-76 win over Pepperdine at Firestone Fieldhouse Thursday night.
"I just like the feel of the whole game and how we played," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "We got in a tough spot coming out of halftime, but they knew we’ve been there before, and we’ve talked about it. The most important thing is you’ve got to rely on each other to make the big plays and that’s what happened. We got that lead and carried it all the way to the end."
Haws led the way with 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. He shot 50 percent from the field and 18 of his points came from the charity stripe. Childs recorded 20 points while grabbing five defensive rebounds, one steal and one block. Gavin Baxter also had a career night, scoring 13 points on 5 of 5 shooting and pulling down six rebounds while tallying three blocks.
On the first possession of the game, Luke Worthington tipped in an offensive rebound to give the Cougars (12-8, 4-1 WCC) the first bucket and Haws added a basket of his own to give BYU an early 4-0 lead before the two teams found themselves tied at 7-all and 15:37 on the clock.
As Pepperdine (9-10, 2-3 WCC) took a four-point lead, Haws answered by going 3 for 3 from the charity stripe and was followed by a Baxter bucket at the rim to take back the lead for a 14-13 advantage with under 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
Back-to-back treys by the Waves didn't stop the Cougars as three different players scored, including seven-consecutive points from Zac Seljaas near the nine-minute mark for a 29-23 advantage.
With 5:34 on the clock, Seljaas finished at the rim to give BYU a 10-point lead, 35-25. In the final minutes of the half, Pepperdine converted from the free throw line and near the basket to cut into the Cougar lead but BYU went into the locker room with a 44-35 advantage.
In the first half, the Cougars shot 60 percent from the field compared to the Waves' 41.4 percent. The BYU bench contributed 18 points in the first 20 minutes while Pepperdine's bench only scored four points.
The Waves came out strong in the second half, going on a 15-5 run to take a 50-49 lead four minutes in.
Childs and Haws combined for seven points as the Cougars fought to keep the lead, 56-52, with 12:10 remaining in the game.
With under 10 minutes left in the game and the score at 60-all, Haws setup Baxter for a dunk to add to his previous pair of free throws as BYU took the two-point advantage. Three minutes later, Haws hit a long bucket from beyond the arc to extend the lead to 70-63 as the Cougar defense held Pepperdine scoreless for nearly five minutes.
In a span of nearly five minutes, Haws and Baxter continued to provide as the two of them combined for 13 points to give BYU an 80-73 advantage with 2:28 remaining. Haws converted at the free-throw line in the final moments of the game to secure the win.
On the game, the Cougars shot 56 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from 3 and 76.5 percent from the free throw line. The Waves recorded 37.7 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from beyond the arc and 64.7 percent from the charity stripe.
BYU continues on the road as they travel to San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 20. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. PST and will be covered on NBC Bay Area and TheW.tv. Audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM), BYU Sports Network and KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
TJ Haws scored a career-best 34 points while making a career-high 18 of 22 from the free-throw line. He added seven rebounds, a career-high tying eight assists and two steals. Haws' 18 free-throw makes are a Pepperdine opponent record.
Yoeli Childs scored 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting, his fourth-straight game with 20-plus points, 13th this season and 28th in his career.
Gavin Baxter scored a career-high 13 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line. He also tied his career high with six rebounds and added three blocks.
Zac Seljaas scored nine points and added a career-best 10 rebounds.
BYU guard TJ Haws
On how big this win was
This team has been playing really well. They have talented guys that can really score the ball, but this is huge for us to come in and get another road win. That gives us a lot of confidence moving forward and I think we are really feeling well right now.
On the team’s performance as a whole
It really takes everyone to get road wins like this. You have to have guys contribute. I thought Zac did a great job when he came in. I can’t say enough good things about what Gavin did tonight. He’s so long and active and some of the rebounds he got were huge for us.
On moving forward
Tonight feels good and we are happy about this win. But tomorrow we’ve really got to focus in on San Francisco. They’ve been playing really well all year long. It’s going to take another effort like tonight where everyone steps up and is helping.
BYU head coach Dave Rose
On tonight’s win
I just like the feel of the whole game and how we played. We got in a tough spot coming out of halftime, but they knew we’ve been there before, and we’ve talked about it. We’ve discussed what we need to do in those times and the most important thing is you’ve got to rely on each other to make the big plays and that’s what happened. We got that lead and carried it all the way to the end.
On the road wins
I think the formula to try and win a conference tournament is to win all of your home games and then split on the road but in this league that’s not good enough. You’ve got to get out on the road and try and beat a team that very seldom loses.
On moving forward
We are going to have to battle all night long just like we did tonight. San Francisco is a team that is playing with a lot of confidence. They have a lot of wins and they believe in themselves. They are playing so well, and it is going to take a real effort. It will be a battle.