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Provo • Nick Emery handed out one assist Thursday night during BYU's 81-71 win over Cal State Bakersfield.
It came at a perfect time.
After the Cougars built a 23-point lead early in the second half, Bakersfield closed within 10 with 7:23 remaining.
The Roadrunners could have gotten closer, too. But after Dedrick Basile missed a jumper, Emery grabbed the rebound and rushed up the floor.
Driving down the lane, Emery drew the retreating defense and kicked the ball to TJ Haws, who was alone in front of the BYU bench. He buried a 3-pointer to stop a 21-8 run by the Roadrunners and help the Cougars regain control.
"The game is all about momentum," said Emery. "Obviously they had the momentum there in the second half. They were hitting tough shots. But it's one big play that turns momentum over and TJ hitting that shot was big for us."
Coach Dave Rose liked Emery's aggressiveness in the face of Bakersfield's rally.
"Those are great individual plays where you have to trust your guys to make the right decision," he said.
Emery led BYU's balanced offense with 23 points. Yoeli Childs finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Haws ended up with 14 points and five assists. Despite game-long foul trouble, Eric Mika contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"It might have been the first game we won this year without Eric being a man-child," Rose said.
BYU, which improved to 9-4, dominated from the start against Bakersfield.
The Cougars jumped to a 16-4 lead behind the play of Mika. He scored eight points in the opening 5 1/2 minutes.
It was 22-7 when Mika picked up his second foul. Without him, BYU converted only one of its next eight possessions and the Roadrunners got within 10.
Still leading 25-15, however, the Cougars exploded.
With 6:10 remaining and the shot clock about to expire, Haws broke down the defense and fired a perfect pass through traffic to Childs. He dunked and was fouled. Childs' three-point play triggered a 12-2 run that gave BYU a 37-17 lead with 4:12 left.
At halftime, it was 47-27.
"I thought the first half was as good as we've played all year, Rose said. "Defensively, we were really dialed in. We rebounded the ball well. Offensively … we found a real rhythm. Our guards were good and Yeo was terrific around the basket."
In the second half, BYU opened a 57-34 lead with 15:32 remaining and held on despite the hot shooting of Damiyane Durham, who finished with 22 points.
"He hit some incredible shots," Emery said. "There were a couple of times I looked over at coach and said, "I can't do anything about that.'"
R Nick Emery scores 23 points to lead BYU past Cal State Bakersfield.
• The Cougars open a 23-point lead early in the second half and hold on.
• Yoeli Childs contributes 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars.