SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Three players scoring in double digits were not enough to fight off Santa Clara’s 3-point shooting as BYU basketball fell 76-68 on the road Thursday night.
“We just kind of yield and lose our composure," head coach Dave Rose said. "That’s where the game really kind of turned. We kind of turned them on and they hit a couple of threes. That’s what they do. This is a team that can spread you out and really shoot them.”
BYU (15-7, 6-3 West Coast Conference) struggled with ball control in the loss, turning the ball over 18 times and giving away 20 points off of those miscues. Santa Clara (12-10, 6-3 WCC) had just seven players see playing time in the win with two fouling out. The Broncos made 14 threes, shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Eric Mika led the Cougars in scoring with 22 points to go with his eight rebounds. TJ Haws and Elijah Bryant also scored in double figures with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Freshman Yoeli Childs grabbed a game-high 11 boards while scoring eight points.
Haws came out strong in the first half, scoring the first five points in the game for the early BYU lead. After trading points for a few minutes, Santa Clara got within one point before a huge block by Mika. He took advantage of his own defensive stop to nail a jumper, putting the Cougars up 12-9 with 15:13 on the clock.
The Broncos got within one multiple times in the first half, but the Cougars were able to hold them off each time. At the 10:39 mark, Nick Emery drilled a 3-pointer to put BYU up 17-13.
Turnovers began to take their toll on BYU, however, as Santa Clara went on a 13-0 run to take the 26-17 lead with less than eight minutes until the break. The Cougars had 12 turnovers in the first half alone.
Free throws from Haws were the only points for BYU for almost seven minutes. Finally, with 3:50 until halftime, Haws drove to the basket for a layup, cutting into Santa Clara’s advantage to 29-21.
Mika got going late in the half, scoring BYU’s last seven points. The Cougars still couldn’t get back on top, heading into the locker room down 34-28.
Coming out of the break, Mika continued being the workhorse for BYU, scoring the first five points. His made free throw at the 16:19 mark to cut into Santa Clara’s 38-33 lead. However, 3-point shooting by the home team gave the Broncos their first double-digit lead, 46-35, with 14:22 to play.
BYU’s defense held Santa Clara without a field goal for almost five minutes, but the Cougars were still unable to get ahead. A bucket from Bryant at the 9:17 mark got his team within single digits before the Broncos caught fire from beyond the arc again. A flurry of 3-pointers put Santa Clara up by as much as 14 points in the second half.
A 6-0 run led by four points from Childs got the Cougars back within striking distance, 63-55, with just under five minutes to play. BYU fought to get within single digits down the stretch, but Santa Clara executed from the charity stripe to keep the Cougars at bay. For the first time since joining the WCC, BYU fell to Santa Clara, 76-68.
BYU looks to bounce back on Saturday against Loyola Marymount back home in the Marriott Center. The game begins at 7 p.m. MST and will be televised live on BYUtv. Radio options are also availble on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio - Sirius XM 143.
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