SAN FRANCISCO — In the bowels of War Memorial Gym, just outside the locker room, the pain and frustration were etched on the face of the usually jovial BYU forward Yoeli Childs. 

That pain and frustration had nothing to do with his injured finger but everything to do with his team’s 83-82 loss Saturday afternoon to San Francisco.

“We just got smacked.” — BYU’s Yoeli Childs

It wasn’t just that the Cougars lost — but it was how they lost.

“We just got smacked,” said Childs, who scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

The Dons overcame a 14-point second-half deficit, staging a stunning 21-0 run to take control of the game. 

Alex Barcello ended the drought with a 3-pointer and BYU fought back in the closing minutes but it couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch. 

And the Cougars couldn’t stop USF guard Khalil Shabazz, who entered Saturday averaging nine points a game. The sophomore came off the bench to explode for a career-high 32 points on 10 of 10 shooting from the floor and 6 of 6 from 3-point range.

“That’s really embarrassing,” said coach Mark Pope. “Clearly, it’s a problem for us on the defensive end. It starts with me. What a disastrous coaching job tonight.”

Don guard Jamaree Bouyea added 23 points on 10 of 15 shots. 

“We just couldn’t guard them. They went to work in isolation the whole last 12-15 minutes of the game,” Pope said. “We didn’t respond and I didn’t adjust. It was really, really awful, deplorable coaching on my part. It’s something we have to fix. We’ve got to get better.”

During that stretch, BYU went seven minutes without scoring, going 0 of 7 from the floor, as USF outscored BYU 32-5. 

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3 takeaways from the BYU Cougars’ 83-82 loss to the San Francisco Dons

“A few guys got hot and kept going and our defense was slacking as the game went on,” said Barcello, who finished with 14 points. “Obviously we didn’t expect that guy to have 30 points, but we should have been better as a team on defense.”

“They basically just said, ‘You can’t guard us.’ And they were right,” Childs said of USF. “So we’ve got to get better. We missed a bunch of bunnies. I missed about a thousand shots. And a 21-0 run happened.”

With one minute remaining, TJ Haws, who scored a team-high 20 points, came up with a big steal and scored a layup to pull the Cougars to within 79-77.

After USF’s Jimbo Lull missed a layup, BYU had the ball. The Dons fouled Childs, sending him to the free-throw line with 17.6 seconds remaining. Childs missed the front end of a one-and-one. 

Could the outcome have been different had he made that crucial free throw? 

“We would have gone to overtime and won the game, so, yeah,” Childs said. 

Shabazz nailed a pair of free throws to put USF up 81-77. Haws was fouled with 5.3 seconds and he made two of three from the line. 

The Dons hit two more free throws with 4.9 seconds left before Jake Toolson, who scored 17, buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer — one point short of forcing overtime.

Maybe this was a case of what comes around goes around. In BYU’s 74-60 win at Pacific Thursday, the Cougars went on a 21-0 run to change the complexion of the game. 

Saturday, BYU seized a 54-40 advantage with just under 16 minutes remaining. From there, the Dons scored 21 consecutive points and eventually went up 72-59. 

“These guys deserved a better coach tonight,” Pope said. “Second, our guys have to step up and help. We let (San Francisco) make 13 3s. That’s really inexcusable.”

USF went 13 of 25 from 3-point territory. BYU hit 15 of 27.

The Cougars’ collapse was reminiscent of last year’s game between these two teams in Provo. BYU squandered a 14-point lead with eight minutes remaining and lost 77-70. 

This time, the Cougars experienced a roller-coaster day on The Hilltop — establishing a double-digit lead and then falling behind by double-digits before losing a heartbreaker. 

Ultimately, BYU split this weekend’s Bay Area road trip. The Cougars fell to 15-7 overall and 4-3 in West Coast Conference play. USF improved to 15-7 and 4-3. 

“This team never gives up. We didn’t lose hope,” Barcello said. “We kept battling until the final buzzer. It’s not fun to lose.”

BYU hosts Pepperdine Thursday.