SALT LAKE CITY — It felt like the BYU basketball team couldn’t make a shot early in the Cougars’ late-night tipoff against Loyola Marymount.
Then suddenly, the Cougars couldn’t miss.
TJ Haws had 17 points and three assists, and Alex Barcello added 18 points on a career-high six 3-pointers, four rebounds and three assists to help BYU pull away from Loyola Marymount with a 77-54 win late Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles.
"We’re trying to stay aggressive on offense," Haws told ESPNU. "The beauty of this team is that we find the extra guy. We’re trying to find open guys … and it’s super fun to play on a team like that."
Connor Harding and Jake Toolson each supplied 9 points, and Toolson added four assists and three rebounds for good measure for a BYU squad that rallied to shoot 41.7% from the field.
The Cougars made a school-record 18 3-pointers on 40 attempts from deep, a respectable 45%. But that left BYU just 7-of-20 from the rest of the field.
Who needs 2-point field goals when you have 3s and an aggressive defense, especially on a team that totaled 54 points from the 3-point line?
And when walk-on guard Evan Troy lobbed a 3-point attempt in the final minute, he turned and celebrated toward the bench almost without seeing the shot fall.
"There’s a walk-on who has battled for three years to make this team," said BYU head coach Mark Pope, who pesters his players to "own their shots" every day. "And sure enough, he hits No. 18, an all-time record for 3s at BYU.”
BYU forced 13 turnovers and limited the Lions to just 17 field goals — including 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
The Cougars used a 21-4 run to go up 58-35 on Zac Seljaas’ 3-pointer with 10:27 on the clock, and the rest was cosmetic. LMU had just 18 points at the under-8 timeout in the second half, moments after Harding hit a triple to put BYU up 61-42.
Eli Scott had 16 points and five rebounds to lead Loyola Marymount, and freshman Keli Leaupepe added 15 points and four rebounds.
BYU scored on 10 of its 33 first-half possessions but shot eight more field goal attempts than LMU.
Yoeli Childs had 9 points and six rebounds for the Cougars, becoming the second-ever player to top 1,000 boards in his career — and the first since Kyle Collinsworth, who graduated with 1,047 in 2016.
“He’s come so far in managing the frustration of the game,” Pope said of Childs. “He started the first half 1-for-6, but he knows the game is going to come.”
BYU made just two of the Cougars’ first 10 shots before Toolson scored in transition with 14:18 left in the half to start an 8-0 run. But there’s no denying the pace favored the Lions, who shot 52% on a mostly efficient 11-of-21 before the break.
Yet the Cougars, who made just 10 first-half field goals (including six from 3-point range) and shot just 37% while being outrebounded 17-14 led by 8, 32-24 at the break.
Haws’ arcing 3-pointer at the 8:42 mark of the half opened an 11-2 run for BYU, but the Lions quickly responded with a 6-0 spurt of their own. Even when the Cougars made shots, they couldn’t stop LMU’s offense, which was held to 38 points Jan. 9 in the Marriott Center.
Barcello nailed a 3-pointer to cap a 10-2 run that gave BYU a game-high lead, 42-31 with 15:29 to go. It was the eighth 3-pointer for the Cougars, who had just 14 total field goals at the time.
Yes, eight 3-pointers to just six 2-point field goals.
"I just went into the game like I do every game, trying to make the smartest play," Barcello told BYU Radio. "My teammates trust me to shoot the ball, and they found me in some good spots today."
Shooters gonna shoot — and BYU has plenty of that right now.
"Tonight was such a fun win for us,” Haws said. “I thought we shot the ball well and really shared the ball. It was a fun win all around."