Brad Waldow scored 24 points and Garrett Jackson added 20 as Saint Mary’s was able to hold off BYU in a fast paced 82-77 victory. Waldow shot 10/15 from the field and also contributed 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. After two quiet games after an excellent five game stretch before that, Jackson got his 20 points on an efficient 7/9 shooting, making all 3 of his three point attempts. The starting backcourt of Kerry Carter and Aaron Bright both struggled in the win, combining for 4/19 shooting and 2/14 from beyond the arc, but the Gaels got a big lift from Emmett Naar off the bench, who finished with 10 points (3/4 FG, 2/3 3FG) and 7 assists.
BYU was lead by Tyler Haws with 28 points on 9/19 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. Chase Fischer scored 19 points but did not have the best shooting night, going 6/15 from the field and 5/12 from beyond the arc. The Cougars were really hurt by the fact that Kyle Collinsworth was in foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul early on in the second half. BYU doesn’t have another real point guard available to play, so the loss of Matt Carlino was on full display in this game (which ironically took place on the same day that Carlino scored 27 points in Marquette’s game against Xavier). Collinsworth was limited to just 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 28 minutes. After going scoreless in the first half, Skyler Halford scored 12 points in the second half to keep BYU in the game despite the barrage of Brad Waldow post baskets.
Luke Worthington and Corbin Kaufusi both did a decent job on Waldow in the first half, but when the two of them were in foul trouble and Isaac Neilson came in the game, Waldow absolutely destroyed him with his post moves and running jump hook in the middle of the paint. While there were definite shooting droughts for BYU, it was the defense that once again killed them in the end. Even as BYU was heating up trying to make a comeback in the final few minutes, Saint Mary’s got a few transition baskets and offensive rebounds that made it hard for the Cougars to sustain any momentum.
Stat of the Night
The Gaels and their 3 forward lineup dominated the backboard as Saint Mary’s out-rebounded BYU 41-28. The SMC starting frontcourt of Waldow/Jackson/Simmons combined for 29 rebounds, more than BYU’s entire team. As a result, the Gaels got six more shot attempts than the Cougars, which in a close game made a huge difference.
NCAA Tournament Resumés
With the win Saint Mary’s improves to 15-3, 7-0 in the West Coast Conference with a current RPI of 61. Their three losses have come at St. John’s (RPI 34), vs. Boise State (65), and their only really bad loss, vs. Northern Arizona (224). The selection committee should take into account that the Boise State loss came before Broncos star forward Anthony Drmic went down with a season ending injury. The problem for the Gaels is that they only have two top 100 RPI wins, Northeastern (68) and BYU (45). Saint Mary’s will likely need to avoid any non-Gonzaga or BYU losses the rest of the way. If they lose their last three games against those teams and say lose in the WCC tournament finals against Gonzaga, that would put them at 25-7 and 15-3 in WCC play and probably on the bubble. If they win any remaining game against BYU or Gonzaga and avoid any losses outside the top 100 RPI, they should feel pretty good on Selection Sunday.
BYU, as a result of their non-conference strength of schedule, had a little more margin for error coming into conference play, but their three losses to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and Pepperdine have put them in a situation where they really cannot lose any more games against teams non named Gonzaga. The Cougars are currently 15-6 and 5-3 in the West Coast Conference with an RPI of 45. Their losses have been to San Diego State (RPI 20) and Purdue (103) in the Maui Invitational, vs. Utah (11), Gonzaga (7), Pepperdine (136, but on the rise), and Saint Mary’s (61). Their only RPI top 100 wins have come vs. Stanford (28) and vs. UMass (64). If they win every game other than say at Gonzaga on February 28 and vs. Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament, they would finish at 26-8 and 14-4 in the West Coast Conference, but any additional losses, and they’ll be sweating on selection Sunday.