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SAN DIEGO — BYU basketball’s win Saturday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion might best be described as “slim.”
But a win is a win.
TJ Haws had 17 points and 10 assists — including the game-winning alley oop to Yoeli Childs, who added 17 points and seven rebounds — to help BYU hold off host San Diego, 72-71.
Zac Seljaas scored 10 points in increased minutes due the ankle injury BYU forward Dalton Nixon suffered Thursday against LMU. Alex Barcello added eight points and two steals for the Cougars (21-7, 10-3 West Coast), and Kolby Lee had eight points and five rebounds.
"I had the easiest job, for sure," Childs told BYU Radio of his game-winner. "Coach Pope drew up a play, and that’s exactly how he drew it up. TJ makes an unbelievable pass, and I have a 7-foot wingspan, so I might as well catch the ball. I didn’t have to do anything."
The Cougars shot just 9-of-24 (37.5%) from 3-point range, and were out-scored 42-30 in the paint by a USD team that out-rebounded the Cougars 36-27.
Finn Sullivan, who averaged 7.5 points per game for USD before Saturday, had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the Toreros.
But it was Yauhen Massalski’s layup off the pick and roll from Marion Humphrey that pulled USD within one, 70-69, and the Toreros forced a turnover on the next possession with 32.5 seconds left.
That set up Massalski’s go-ahead drive to lead 71-70 with 19.7 seconds to play. Childs finished off a lob from Haws 10 seconds later — one that the Alpine native threw from the 3-point line to the South Jordan native's lengthy wingspan over the rim. Haws and Barcello then forced a turnover on the other end that left Braun Hartfield just 2 seconds for a game-winning look, which bounced off the front iron and caromed harmlessly to the floor.
"We’ve been a prolific offensive team all year long," said BYU coach Mark Pope, whose team ranks fifth nationally in adjusted offense, according to KenPom. "But we’ve been saying we’re going to have to win games on defense.
"Sure enough, we got to win it with a defensive stop and a rebound there."
Massalski finished with 11 points and four rebounds for San Diego (9-19, 2-11 WCC), which had won two of the previous three against BYU at home.
BYU stretched its season-long win streak to six conference games, its longest in-conference win streak in five years — a fact Pope blasted in his postgame radio show on BYU Radio.
No team led by more than five after San Diego’s game-opening 9-2 run in the first 3:06 of the first half. The two sides battled through 19 lead changes, with no ties, and the Cougars trailed up until Haws capped a 5-0 run with a reverse layup to go up 55-50 with 8:43 remaining.
Jared Rodriguez had 13 points and five rebounds for San Diego, and Hartfield supplied 12 points, two rebounds and two assists for the Toreros.
But in the absence of Nixon, BYU got big contributions from a host of characters, including Childs and Haws, but also Gavin Baxter, who had three rebounds and two blocked shots in a season-high 13 minutes.
"We’ve been through it all. Zac getting hurt, me getting hurt, Kolby, Trevin (Knell), Jake (Toolson), Dalton," Childs said. "Through tough calls, through adversity, we just want to fight through everything.
"There was no point in the game tonight where we rolled over."
BYU, which plays three of its final five games on the road, returns home to host Santa Clara on Thursday night in the Marriott Center (7 p.m. MT, CBS Sports). The Cougars then host No. 1 Gonzaga at 8 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN in the regular-season home finale.