POSTGAME NOTES: BYU 69, SAINT MARY'S 76
LAS VEGAS — The following notes and quotes are from BYU’s 76-69 loss to Saint Mary’s in the semifinals of the 2023 University Credit Union West Coast Conference tournament on Monday evening at Orleans Arena.
Series Results: BYU trails 18-20 including 2-3 record in neutral site contests.
Slow out of the gate
The Cougars went a dismal 7-of-23 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes including 1-for-7 from downtown while Saint Mary’s went 13-26 in the first knocking down four triples. The Gaels outrebounded BYU 20-13 in the first half, securing eight offensive boards which turned into 10 second-chance points.
Press your luck
Midway through the second half when the Cougars found themselves down 26, BYU implemented a full-court press that led to four Saint Mary’s turnovers. By the 4:50 mark, the Cougars had cut the Gaels’ lead to eight.
After an Atiki Ally Atiki block with 2:18 to play, Richie Saunders found Spencer Johnson streaking to the cup to cut the lead to six. Rudi Williams cut the lead to three with 32 ticks left, but the Cougar’s weren’t able to stop the Gaels who extended the lead back to six and closed out a seven-point win.
Too Little, Too Late
The Cougars outscored the Gaels 49-39 in the second half by hitting 18-of-28 offerings in the second stanza, going 3-for-7 from behind the arc. Despite the 49-point offensive effort, the fourth-best second-half scoring output of the season, Saint Mary’s went 11-for-47 from the field, 3-for-4 from deep and 14-for-21 from the line to close out the seven-point victory.
There were 44 fouls and four technical fouls assessed in the WCC semifinal on Monday night. The Gaels went to the line 34 times, converting on 21 attempts while the Cougars knocked down 15-of-23 attempts from the charity stripe.
Spencer Johnson has been a steady force for the Cougar offense throughout the season and led the Cougars with 13 points on 4-for-6 from the field, 1-2 from deep and 4-for-5 from the stripe.
Saunders the Energizer Bunny
Richie Saunders was a spark plug off the bench for the Cougars as he was key in the second-half comeback. Saunders saw 27 minutes of action tonight while tallying 11 points, going 4-for-8 with four rebounds, two assists and two steals on the night.
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