MALIBU, Calif. – A career-high 38 points by Yoeli Childs led the No. 17/18 BYU men’s basketball team to an 81-64 victory over Pepperdine in the final regular season game on Saturday afternoon in Firestone Fieldhouse. The win locks BYU into the No. 2 seed heading into the West Coast Conference Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
"We’ve won eight in a row (coming into today's game), we just beat Gonzaga, we had the most epic senior night in the history of any senior night in the world," BYU head coach Mark Pope said. "We have a chance to lock up the two seed and everybody is praising our guys like crazy. We were going on the road to the sunshine and the distraction of Pepperdine, a great defensive team. The fact that they came in here and competed the way they did is a testament to their insides. I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them."
In addition to his 38 points, Childs recorded a double-double with 14 rebounds. TJ Haws had an impressive 13 assists and eight points and Zac Seljaas tallied 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Jake Toolson recorded 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Waves (15-15, 8-8 WCC) jumped to an early 7-2 lead before back-to-back buckets by Childs and a trey by Toolson gave the Cougars (24-7, 13-3 WCC) their first lead of the game 10-7 with 16:29 on the clock.
Near the 12-minute mark, a 3-pointer by Pepperdine cut the deficit to one-point, 15-14, before a free-throw evened the game. After trading the lead, a 3-point play by Haws tied the game at 24-all with six minutes remaining in the first half.
Childs scored six-straight points for BYU and was followed by a dunk by Seljaas but the Waves managed to score the last bucket of the half to take a 35-32 advantage into the locker room. The Cougars shot 42.4 percent from the field in the first half compared to the Pepperdine’s 40.5 percent.
A Toolson 3-pointer on BYU’s first possession of the second half brought the score to 37-35 but the Waves offense continued to keep the lead three minutes into the half.
Layups by Childs kept tying the game before a Connor Harding bucket from beyond the arc once again gave the lead to the Cougars, 46-43, with under 15 minutes to play. With a 3-point advantage and 11:31 on the clock, Childs converted at the charity stripe then finished strong at the rim to bring the lead to 54-47.
A bucket by Haws was followed by a steal to ultimately setup Childs for a jumper to extend BYU’s advantage to 58-50 with eight minutes left in the game. Alex Barcello scored his first points of the game to add to the Cougars’ run, bringing the score to 61-50.
Childs converted on a 3-point play to give him his new career-best then a layup by Haws kept the momentum with BYU as the Cougars held a 15-point advantage, 76-61, with 2:41 remaining in the game.
Two buckets in the paint by Childs and a free-throw by Haws closed the scoring for BYU to secure the win and the No. 2 seed in the West Coast Conference tournament.
On the game, the Cougars shot 53.1 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3 and 60.0 percent from the charity stripe. Pepperdine recorded 39.4 percent from the field, 30.4 percent from beyond the arc and 50.0 percent from the free-throw line.
After closing regular season action, the Cougars head to Las Vegas to play in the WCC Tournament. As the No. 2 seed, BYU will play on Monday, Mar. 9, at 8:30 p.m. PST. The game will be live on ESPN2 with audio broadcasts available on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM), BYU Sports Network and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
Yoeli Childs finished with a career-best 38 points on 17 of 27 shooting and tied his season high with 14 rebounds. It is his third-straight double-double, seventh of the season and 44th of his career. It was also his sixth-career 30-point game.
Childs also reached 2,008 career points, becoming the sixth Cougar with 2,000-plus career points. He is also the first BYU player and second in West Coast Conference history (Bill Cartwright, San Francisco) with 2,000-plus career points and 1,000-plus career rebounds.
TJ Haws recorded 13 assists, one off his career high and his fourth game this season with double-figure assists. Haws' free throw streak ended today at 29, tied for the seventh-longest streak of consecutive made free throws in BYU history.
Jake Toolson hit 3 of 3 from 3-point range, his 14th game of the season with three-plus 3-pointers, tied for the ninth-most games with three-plus 3s in a season in BYU history. Toolson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Zac Seljaas finished the day with 12 points, his second-consecutive game and third in four with double-figure points. Seljaas added six rebounds and three assists.
BYU’s nine-game win streak is its longest overall since 2017-18 and longest in conference play since 2007-08. BYU won nine-straight during the nonconference season in 2017-18 and nine-straight in league play in 2007-08. The Cougars last won 10-straight in 2010-11.
BYU forward Yoeli Childs
On today’s game
“Pepperdine is a very good team. They’ve had a lot of ups and downs. The way they can score the ball and move it and their diversity on the offensive end is scary. I thought we did a good job of coming out and being prepared and fighting through the adversity even when we weren’t really ourselves in the first half.”
On adjusting to Pepperdine’s defense
“We weren’t really sure the entire game. They are a defense that switches it up a lot. They haven’t really shown that all year. It was an interesting call by them, but we just tried to make the right plays and make the right reads. If they are doubling then I’ll kick it out and if it’s just one guy, then I am going to try score and do what I can to help the team.”
On his career-high 38 points
“It felt like I took a lot of shots. I felt kind of bad. I was getting them up tonight and to score a lot of points you have to shoot the ball a lot. My teammates were finding me, and the coaching staff did a great job of running sets to get me the ball.”
BYU head coach Mark Pope
On coming back in the second half
“Alex Barcello. He didn’t have a great first half. He wasn’t his normal self. None of us were our normal selves. We had a brief conversation and then his response changed the whole outcome of the game. He’s just so tough. If I was a better coach, you guys would know his game as well as I do and as well as this team does. He has got so much in the tank and he was a star tonight. In terms of changing the flow and energy and tenure of the game, Alex Barcello was the guy tonight. He was so extraordinary tonight and I couldn’t be more proud or happier for him”
On the special moments
“The guys were kind of laughing at me all week because I just lost my mind. We’ve won eight in a row, we just beat Gonzaga, we had the most epic senior night in the history of any senior night in the world, we have a chance to lock up the two seed and everybody is praising our guys like crazy. We were going on the road to the sunshine and the distraction of Pepperdine, a great defensive team. The fact that they came in here and competed the way they did is a testament to their insides. I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them. The whole gym was BYU fans. I am just so excited for all these people to witness what these young men are doing because it’s awesome.”