SAN DIEGO — BYU made just three 3-pointers and was whistled for 25 personal fouls at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
That pretty much sums up the Cougars’ 75-62 setback to San Diego Saturday afternoon.
“That’s a hard number to win with,” coach Dave Rose said, referring to his team’s 3-of-22 shooting performance from 3-point range.
It was clear from the outset that this wasn't going to end well for BYU. The Cougars found themselves down 11 points midway through the first half.
“We started the game very poorly. In February, it’s hard to overcome that kind of stuff,” said guard TJ Haws, who scored 14 points and had five assists. “They’re a good team and they knocked down big shots. We let them get going at the beginning. They’re a good team. It’s hard to stop that.”
“We missed some open shots early. It hurt us on the defensive end because we were a bit slow,” Rose said. “We needed to get some energy from some makes. We were having a hard time doing that.”
The Cougars connected on just one of their first 14 3-point shots.
“We just couldn’t really get into our groove,” said guard Zac Seljaas. “When shots aren’t falling, it’s a downer to your mentality. You want to have that confidence, but we didn’t really have that tonight.”
BYU dropped to 21-8 overall and 10-6 in West Coast Conference play while San Diego improved to 17-11 and 8-8.
Meanwhile, the referees were calling a flurry of fouls early on. BYU forward Yoeli Childs picked up his third personal with 7:26 remaining in the first half and he ended up fouling out with four minutes left in the game while Jahshire Hardnett also fouled out.
Childs scored eight points in 22 minutes, halting his streak of 26 games of scoring in double figures.
At halftime, four other Cougars had two fouls apiece, forcing Rose to shuffle players in and out of the game on a regular basis.
“It really made it tough as far as matchups are concerned. We played a lot of zone. It was pretty effective,” Rose said. “We caught them on a night when they had a lot of guys making shots. They hit a couple of deep 3s at the end of the shot clock. They had multiple guys so it made it hard for us to get anything consistently defensively.”
“It’s a challenge,” Haws said of the foul-fest. “The refs, I don’t know. It was frustrating tonight. I thought we had a few calls that were very questionable. But you can’t really focus on that. We’ve got to control what we can control and we didn’t do that tonight.”
San Diego’s Isaiah Pineiro came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points while Cameron Neubauer scored 14 points and hit 3 of 7 3-pointers. Olin Carter III added 13 points and Isaiah Wright chipped in 11.
As a team, the Toreros made 9 of 21 3-pointers.
Trailing 39-28 at halftime, BYU fell behind by as many as 16 points, 44-28, early in the second half before the Cougars mounted a rally.
“We found a little streak in us and we made a couple of runs back and forth, but by we were in foul trouble the whole time,” Rose said. “We were trying to patch lineups together, piece them together.”
A 13-2 BYU run cut the deficit to 46-41. But USD wouldn’t let the Cougars get any closer. With 4:17 remaining, BYU pulled to within 61-56 after Haws made a couple of free throws.
Moments later, Childs committed his fifth personal foul on Tyler Williams’ 3-point attempt in the corner. Not only did BYU lose Childs for the rest of the game, but Williams also knocked down all three free throws.
“When we made our runs and cut it to five, it looked like we had a chance,” Rose said. “We got a couple of tough calls and late 3s on the shot clock.”
Over the closing minutes, the Cougars fired up more errant shots. Elijah Bryant finished with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting and 2 of 10 from 3-point territory.
The way Haws sees it, his team simply didn’t come out strong enough against the Toreros.
“We’ve just got to come out tougher and punch them in the mouth right from the start,” he said. “They did that to us, and they got it going.”
BYU visits Portland Thursday.