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Torrid shooting from Toolson, teammates, helps BYU tie school record with 17 3-pointers in win over Pepperdine

Utah Valley transfer was 7 of 10 from beyond the arc, and the Cougars were 17 of 28 in 107-80 win over the Waves at the Marriott Center.

SHARE Torrid shooting from Toolson, teammates, helps BYU tie school record with 17 3-pointers in win over Pepperdine
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Brigham Young Cougars guard Jake Toolson (5) holds the ball in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. BYU defeated the Pepperdine Waves 107-80.

Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

PROVO — Less than a minute into Thursday night’s battle for third place in the West Coast Conference basketball race, star BYU guard Jake Toolson missed an open 3-pointer.

Forgive the Pepperdine Waves for not realizing that doesn’t happen very often — or that Toolson says, jokingly, that he missed it on purpose.

“I think we did a good job sharing the ball and spreading them out and making them choose what they were going to do. Our bigs did a good job spreading the ball out from the post. We just fought to earn the best shot” — BYU guard Jake Toolson

The visitors left Toolson and BYU’s other sharpshooters open most of the night and paid for it with a 107-80 loss in front of 10,939 fans at the Marriott Center. 

Toolson made seven of the next nine triples he took after that early misfire, and the Cougars (16-7, 5-3) piled up a school record-tying 17 3-pointers — on just 28 attempts — in the easier-than-expected win over a Pepperdine team (11-11, 4-4) that had won four of five entering the contest. It was the second time BYU has made 17 treys this season (Virginia Tech), and fourth time ever.

“I think we did a good job sharing the ball and spreading them out and making them choose what they were going to do,” Toolson said, starting the postgame news conference on a serious note, one that wouldn’t continue. “Our bigs did a good job spreading the ball out from the post. We just fought to earn the best shot.”

After Toolson’s early miss and a turnover, TJ Haws was inexplicably left alone and buried a bomb. Toolson then nailed three straight from beyond the arc, and Yoeli Childs and Zac Seljaas had long-range makes, too, before Seljaas just missed from the corner.

“I actually do it on purpose,” Toolson said of the first miss. “I get my misses out early and then I know that the rest of the game, they are in trouble. I usually like to see one miss, then I can adjust and I know the rest are going in.”

The six straight 3-point makes staked BYU to a three-touchdown lead, 28-7, and although Pepperdine put together a 16-0 run to make a few fans uncomfortable late in the first half, the Cougars’ control was never really threatened.

Toolson lifted BYU out of a first-half funk that included a scoreless drought of four minutes, 38 seconds with his fourth 3-pointer of the first 20 minutes, and Connor Harding ended the half with another.

The Cougars were 8 of 14 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes and 9 of 14 in the second half. Still, coach Mark Pope wasn’t completely happy.

“We shot the ball really well, but our attention is on the other side of the ball right now, a little bit, and we were really good to start and we had a bad stretch in the first half and a bad stretch the last seven minutes of the game where (defense) has got to be our identity right now,” Pope said.

While Childs joked postgame that Toolson averaged 50 points per game in high school, Toolson ribbed the big guy (who made the only 3-pointer he took) that he loves the finger injury he sustained a few weeks ago because he can blame all his bad plays on it.

Alex Barcello (3 for 4), Haws (2 for 4), Harding (2 for 4), Seljaas (1 for 3) and even reserve player Taylor Maughan (1 for 1) contributed from long range, but Toolson clearly led the way.

“Yeah, he is a star,” Pope said. “I mean, he is an All-American player and he is one of the premier shooters in the country. He is trying to take an increasing leadership role on this team every game. I was really happy with him. Again, you look at Jake’s line and I am really excited about the (five assists and no turnovers), but the three rebounds is something he needs to really grow.

“Clearly he shot the living daylights out of the ball, and that’s special,” Pope concluded. “But we are chasing big things right now, so we got to keep getting better, Jake included.”