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Yoeli Childs fights through illness to lead BYU men's basketball team past Pacific

PROVO — When Yoeli Childs missed practice Friday due to an illness, BYU coach Dave Rose wondered if his star forward would be able to play against Pacific.

Childs didn’t start Saturday night, but he sure did finish.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore came off the bench to score 26 points, to go along with Elijah Bryant’s 28-point outing, as the Cougars pulled away from the Tigers in the second half in an 80-65 victory before a crowd of 16,456 at the Marriott Center.

“He really sucked it up and battled for his team and helped us win,” Rose said of Childs, who scored 20 points in the second half alone.

While Childs made 10 of 15 shots from the field on the night, Bryant was 8 of 9 — including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.

On Friday, the day after BYU’s loss at Saint Mary’s, Childs was sent home from practice and he went to a doctor.

“He had all kinds of symptoms,” said Rose, who had planned on playing Childs only 20-27 minutes. Childs ended up playing 33 minutes.

With the victory, the Cougars improved to 18-5 overall and 7-3 in West Coast Conference play. Pacific fell to 10-13 and 5-5.

BYU avenged a 67-66 setback in Stockton, California, on Jan. 6. For much of the time, it appeared that this one would come down to the wire as well.

The Tigers held a 33-30 halftime lead. Pacific was ahead 44-39 five minutes into the second half.

That’s when the Cougars went on a 16-2 run during a stretch that featured three 3-pointers by Bryant and a couple of buckets from Childs.

“Eli and Yoeli did a great job of consistently being able to score for us,” Rose said.

How was BYU able to take control in the second half?

“We had a defensive mindset,” Bryant said. “Once we got stops, we got out on transition and pushed the tempo and got those guys moving. They send five to the glass, so it’s hard for them to get back in transition.”

As a team, the Cougars missed five field goals (15 of 20) and two free throws (16 of 18) in the entire second half. For the game, BYU shot 59 percent from the field.

Late in the contest, things got a little chippy between the two teams as the referees struggled to keep control. Over the final few minutes, a parade of players went to the free throw line.

At one point, the wrong Pacific player was sent to the charity stripe. Then Tiger guard Roberto Gallinat, who finished with a team-high 18 points, was whistled for a flagrant 2 on a hard foul against TJ Haws.

“Both teams just wanted to win, and you saw that emotion come out,” Bryant said. “The refs did a great job of controlling it.”

“Give (Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire’s) team credit. They played hard, they competed hard,” Rose said. “They made the game more the way they wanted to play than we wanted to play. I’m just really proud of the guys for being able to find a way to win. A lot of contributed. A great team win.”

Why does Pacific’s style of play give BYU fits?

“It’s a real physical offense. Put your head down and drive and create contact,” Rose said. “I think we were able to offset that a little bit. It was still a battle. It looks like a 15-point game on the ticker, but that was a really competitive basketball game.”

Pacific set the tone early on and led by as many as eight in the first half before Payton Dastrup came off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer and scored another basket moments later to cut the deficit to two points. It was a spark that BYU needed.

“Our bench saved us tonight,” Childs said.

Both teams played a lot of zone Saturday, something they usually don’t do.

“Defensively, we had a hard time man-to-man, so we zoned quite a bit. They’re a really good offensive rebounding team,” Rose said. “We’re a good defensive rebounding team. But, tonight, they got quite a few second looks, and a lot of that was from trying to rebound from a zone position.”

Pacific entered the game having made more than six 3-pointers only twice before this season. The Tigers ended up hitting 7 of 18 from 3-point range. In the game between these teams in Stockton, Pacific made 2 of 13 3-pointers.

“They had us scouted really well and made everything really hard. We just didn’t have that quickness to anything we did offensive or defensively,” Rose said of his team’s start. “We were a little bit sluggish. There was a lot of reasons why you can explain that happening but it really shouldn’t happen this far into the season.”

Rose said his team’s “demeanor and our body language was much better” in the second half. “We competed better.”

BYU visits Loyola Marymount Thursday.