MORAGA, Calif. – Despite an exceptional performance by senior Brandon Davies, the BYU men's basketball team fell to the Saint Mary's Gaels 64-57 Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion.
With the loss, BYU moves to 20-9 on the season and 9-5 in the West Coast Conference. Saint Mary's improves to 23-5 overall and 12-2 in the WCC.
"It's a lot easier to grow as a team when you win, not after a loss," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "And it's a shame because I thought our guys played tough tonight. We could have won. When it came down to making big plays, they made them. Dellavedova is an amazing player and he leads that team. We thought we had a good game plan coming in and could keep it close, and we really were so close."
Davies led all scorers with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting. He was also the leading rebounder with nine boards and tied Gaels point guard Matthew Dellavedova with a game-high four assists.
The loss soured a milestone night for BYU sophomore Tyler Haws, who became the second Cougar in history to reach 1,000 career points during his sophomore season. Haws finished the game with 12 points and six rebounds. He now has 1,003 career points.
With BYU up 4-3 early on, senior Brock Zylstra saved the ball from going out of bounds and found Craig Cusick open for a 3-pointer. A nice spin move and finger roll by Davies gave BYU an 11-6 advantage five minutes into the game.
After a 6-0 BYU run, the Gaels tied the game at 13 with seven unanswered points of their own. With BYU trailing 18-17, Cougar guard Matt Carlino split the defense and forced Gaels forward Mitchell Young to slide into help position, leaving Davies wide open to throw down an alley-oop with 10:04 to go in the half.
Saint Mary's took a 22-19 lead after making four straight free throws. BYU regained the lead with a pair of free throws by Nate Austin and a turnaround jumper by Davies on the right block with 6:00 remaining in the first period.
Davies capped off his impressive first half with a nice bounce pass to Austin for a layup that gave the Cougars a 32-28 advantage that they took into the locker room at halftime. Davies scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists in 17 first half minutes. BYU shot 59 percent in the first half, compared to 35 percent for Saint Mary's.
Continuing his stellar night, Davies scored the first basket of the second half to put the Cougars up 34-28. The Gaels, however, regained the lead with a 7-0 run over the next three minutes. Saint Mary's pushed its lead to five at 41-36 before Davies finished an old-fashioned three-point play to pull the Cougars within three. A layup by Zylstra tied the game at 41 with 13:37 to play in the game.
Zylstra split a pair of free throws to put BYU ahead at 44-43 with 11 minutes to go. The Cougars went cold for the next three minutes, however, allowing the Gaels to build a 49-44 lead.
With BYU trailing 54-48 with 5:49 left in the game, Davies caught the ball on the right block and spun to the baseline. A quick pass fake to the middle of the floor turned Davies' defender around, freeing the BYU big man up for a layup. It was the Cougars' first field goal in more than five minutes.
Just before the five-minute mark, Zylstra made a 3-pointer in transition that pulled the Cougars within one at 54-53. With 1:20 to play and BYU trailing 59-57, Carlino went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game but missed both shots.
Saint Mary's put the game away at the free throw line, making four in a row to make the final score 64-57.
BYU returns to the Marriott Center next Thursday for its final home game of the season. They will face WCC leader Gonzaga at 9 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.