PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s basketball team clinched a hard-fought 71-66 win against WCC-foe Saint Mary’s in the second match-up of the season on Thursday.
"I think that it was a real quality win for our team," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I think our guys responded well to a disappointing outcome a couple weeks ago at their place. We weathered a lot of storms. When you hold a team to 66 points and they get 17 rebounds, it shows determination and grit."
Yoeli Childs achieved his 32nd career double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds; TJ Haws followed with 17 points and seven assists while Gavin Baxter rounded the top performers out with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
BYU (13-9, 5-2 WCC) took the first points of the game off of a Child’s bucket in the paint, followed by another bucket by Luke Worthington, giving the Cougars a 4-2 edge. Saint Mary’s (13-8, 4-2 WCC) then took its first substantial lead on a 4-0 run at 10-6, earning buckets from two consecutive layups.
With less than 11 minutes on the clock and BYU down, Childs claimed a dunk and Nick Emery made a bucket off of a breakaway to pull the Cougars within one, 18-17.
The Gael’s increased their lead in the sixth minute off of a layup, 22-17, but McKay Cannon quickly responded with the team's second trey of the half, reducing Saint Mary’s to a slim two-point lead, 22-20. The Cougars then put on tough, defensive pressure swatting away two shot attempts by the Gaels.
BYU’s defensive pressure was complemented by Child’s offensive display when he regained the lead off of back-to-back buckets, including a 3-point jumper, to put the score at 27-22. With under five minutes left in the half, the Cougars broke into the 30s and stretched the advantage to a seven-point lead at the half, 33-26.
BYU entered the locker room with a 46.7 field goal percentage, holding Saint Mary’s to a 41.4 field goal percentage. Childs led the Cougars with 15 points as well as five rebounds.
BYU began the second half strong with Haws making a deep 3-pointer in the first minute, followed by another bucket just a minute later for the first double-digit lead of the night at 38-28. Baxter maintained the Cougar lead minutes off of a dunk, quickly followed up by a Child’s bucket, 44-35.
Entering the last 10 minutes of the game, BYU extended its lead to 11 points with consecutive layups by Emery and Baxter, followed by four-consecutive free throws by Emery and Haws, 56-44.
The Cougars maintained a minimum eight-point lead until Saint Mary’s reduced its scoring deficit off of a 3-pointer and an additional bucket, drawing within four at 61-57. The Gaels came within two points with 3:44 remaining but a dual effort by Haws and Childs cushioned the score, 65-59. With :06 left, Emery made a free throw and secured a 71-66 win for BYU.
On the night, the Cougars maintained a 45.8 shooting percentage from the field, 28.6 from the 3 and 61.9 from the charity line. Saint Mary’s shot a 44.1 field goal percentage, 25.0 percent from beyond the arc and 81.8 percent at the free throw line.
The Cougars continue at home as they play Gonzaga on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 9 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center. Live coverage will be provided through ESPN2 and audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2), BYU Sports Network and KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM).