PROVO – Senior guard Kyle Collinsworth led a second-half surge as BYU knocked off No. 25 Saint Mary’s 70-59 in West Coast Conference action Thursday night at the Marriott Center.
“I thought it was a pretty well-executed game,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “In the first half, they were really efficient, and I thought that we were a step slow defensively on a couple of plays. I thought in the second half we were much better. We were a little bit quicker to the ball and a little more active with our hands. Our big guys played really well, especially defensively. We were able to win the game late and hang on.”
The Cougars (17-7, 8-3 WCC) cleaned up on the boards with a 44-33 rebounding advantage, as the Gaels couldn’t shake the cold in their first trip outside of California this season. Saint Mary’s (18-3, 9-2 WCC) suffered its third loss of the season, shooting 34.4 percent while BYU was 44.6 percent from the floor.
Collinsworth fueled BYU with 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block, while Chase Fischer paced the team with his game-high 19 points, including three first-half 3-pointers. Corbin Kaufusi scored 7 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Kyle Davis had 8 points with six boards.
Facing a 37-33 halftime deficit, the Cougars swung the momentum in their favor as they took the lead for the final time with 13:51 left in the game. Collinsworth converted on a 3-point play to give the Cougars their first lead since the first half, 44-41.
At 11:53 left in the game, BYU took a 49-43 advantage on a deep 3 by Emery and a mid-range jumper by Austin, courtesy of a Collinsworth dish. Fischer’s fourth trey gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game at that point, 52-43.
After the Gaels cut the lead with a 3 and then a two-pointer off a turnover, Collinsworth returned the favor with an emphatic dunk off a Fischer steal for a 54-48 tally at 9:33 left in the game.
BYU extended the lead to 60-48 as the Gaels were held to 2 of their last 11 from the field. SMC was forced to call a timeout after a turnover led to another Collinsworth dunk.
Following the timeout, Kaufusi blocked a shot and put back an offensive rebound for an 11-point Cougar lead. Collinsworth then scored two on the next possession for BYU’s largest lead of the night, 64-51, with 5:26 left.
The Gaels then strung together some offense, cutting the lead to 65-59 with 3:32 to play. But the Cougars closed out the win from the free-throw line. They scored the final 5 points as Saint Mary’s ended the game on a scoring drought over the final 3:32.
Saint Mary’s outshot BYU from the floor in the first half 45 to 42 percent, but the Cougars led the majority of the period behind Fischer’s 13 points.
The game began with both teams trading baskets before BYU jumped out to a 10-6 lead at the first media timeout.
Saint Mary’s then hit five of its next seven field goal attempts to keep the game tight, 18-17, at the 11:05 mark. The Cougars 8 points during that stretch included 3-pointers by Fischer and Zac Seljaas and a jumper by Fischer.
The Gaels kept the margin close as BYU led 29-28 at the 4:44 mark in the first. They used a 9-0 run to get in front for the 37-33 halftime score.
The Cougars continue their home stand as they host Pacific on Saturday at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be televised live on BYUtv, TWC Sports Network, ROOT Rocky Mountain/Northwest and CSN California and broadcast live on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
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