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BYU basketball cans 17 threes in win over Pepperdine

(Ivy Ceballo, KSL)


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PROVO — Four of the BYU basketball team's first five shots Thursday against Pepperdine were from 3-point range.

The Cougars made three of them.

Just another night in the Marriott Center.

Jake Toolson poured in 25 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, as BYU shot a blistering 61.2 percent with 17 3s to top visiting Pepperdine 107-80 on Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 10,939 fans.

The 17 3-pointers also tie a single-game program record at BYU, which drained as many for the second time this season.

“He’s a star,” BYU coach Mark Pope said of Toolson. “He’s an All-American player, and one of the premier shooters in the country. He’s trying to take an increasing leadership role on this team every game.

“But again, I’m looking at his line — the three rebounds is somewhere he needs to really grow. He shot the living daylights out of the ball, and that’s special. But we’re chasing big things right now.”

Yoeli Childs added 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Cougars, and TJ Haws supplied 12 points and six assists. Alex Barcello scored 13, including three triples, with four assists for BYU (16-7, 5-3 West Coast).

Kameron Edwards had 20 points and five rebounds to lead Pepperdine, and Colbey Ross added 16 points and seven assists for the Waves (11-11, 4-4 WCC).

After clinging to a six-point halftime lead, BYU got back-to-back buckets from Barcello, including a 3 with 17:09 left, to push the Cougars' lead back up to 61-41 following a 13-0 run over 2:07.

BYU assisted on 27 of 41 made shots, and the Waves never threatened again.

“I think we did a good job of sharing the ball, spreading them out and making them choose what they were going to do,” Toolson said. “Our bigs sprayed out from the post. We just fought to earn the best shot, and that’s what we did.”

And yet, in some ways, it wasn’t good enough.

“I will first give credit to Pepperdine,” said Pope, who praised the Waves, winners of four of the last five games. “But second, I told our guys that we have to work and find a way to care about the defensive end on every single possession. And we’re not far from that. I’m so proud of how these guys are performing on the defensive end of the ball.

“We scored 107 points tonight, but we need to be better on the other side of the ball. We need to win games because of our defense.”

The Cougars turned a 5-0 run at the first media timeout into a 15-0 charge with a run that included a posterizing dunk from Connor Harding to go up 22-5 with 12:18 left in the half. The Waves responded with an 18-2 run to cut the deficit to 6, 36-30 with a 3:17 scoreless drought near the end of the half.

Then Kolby Lee came off the bench for an easy tip-in from Haws, Toolson followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing, finishing with a game-high 14 points at the break, to wrest back a bit of control.

BYU shot 58% from the field before the break, made eight triples, outrebounded Pepperdine 18-14 and led by as much as 22 before clinging to a 46-38 halftime lead.

But any hope of a repeat performance from the Hilltop, when BYU allowed a 32-5 second-half run to the San Francisco Dons in an 83-82 loss last Saturday, seemed to evaporate in the early moments of the half.

“That first half felt a lot like the San Francisco game,” Childs said. “That was super disappointing, jumping out to an early lead but letting them get back into it. We were all about learning from our mistakes, and not letting one loss turn into two.”

Next up

BYU stays home Saturday to complete the season series with Saint Mary's, which beat the Cougars 87-84 in overtime in Moraga, California, on Jan. 9. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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