Yoeli Childs recorded a double-double with a career high 19 points and 12 rebounds as BYU wrapped up non-conference play with a 81-71 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday night at the Marriott Center. Nick Emery had a great shooting night, scoring 23 points on 5/7 shooting from beyond the arc. T.J. Haws added 14 points on 4/8 shooting, and Eric Mika scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds despite being in foul trouble throughout the contest.
The Cougars jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game, and they expanded the lead as the half went on. Eric Mika’s foul trouble and too many early turnovers did not slow BYU down, as Nick Emery’s shooting and Steven Beo’s transition layups sparked a 22-12 run to give the Cougars a 47-27 lead at halftime.
The BYU lead got as high as 23 points in the second half, but Bakersfield went on a run to cut the Cougar lead to 65-55 with 8 minutes remaining after Eric Mika picked up his fourth foul. A key five point swing, when Bakersfield missed layup that led to a Haws transition three, expanded the Cougar lead back to 13. The lead never got smaller than 9 points, as Mika and others knocked down enough free throws to put the game on ice in the final few minutes.
While it was encouraging to see Nick Emery break out of his recent shooting slump, it was very concerning to see BYU once again struggle taking care of the ball with 21 turnovers. For a team that wants to contend for a conference championship, the Cougars cannot afford to put their foot on the brakes when they jump out to a big lead like they did tonight. They will need to value possession more or they’ll risk losing to an inferior WCC opponent.
Following the football team’s Poinsettia Bowl victory, Corbin Kaufusi will return to the basketball team for practice on Monday. Three days later the Cougars will host Santa Clara to open league play on Thursday night.