BYU could not find Brad Waldow in the early going. The Cougars scored first but Waldow scored second, third and fourth. Kerry Carter hit a free throw to make the Gaels lead five. Saint Mary's took the lead with a 7-0 run that held BYU scoreless for two minutes.
That doesn't sound like a long time, but for the Cougars it's an eternity. BYU is the nation's second fastest and second highest scoring team.
Brad Waldow kept scoring, totaling 11 points in the half on 4-4 shooting from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line.
For BYU, the guard combo of Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth scored eight a piece in the half. Collinsworth also recorded a team high four rebounds.
Collinsworth was playing with great intensity as well. He chased down a loose ball with 6:30 left in the half when a collision knocked him hard to the ground. He looked to be in immense pain and was grasping his knee, which is a very scary combination. After a few moments he limped with a trainer off the court and to the locker room. When BYU fans saw he was able to put weight on his knee there was a mass sigh of relief.
The injury looked very serious, but Collinsworth missed just four minutes of the game. He was the only Cougar to score after returning to the game.
At the half the Gaels held a ten point lead that felt much larger.
Saint Mary's held the high-octane Cougars to just 25 points in the half. BYU has scored at least 100 points in four games this season.
The Cougars' offense returned to form after the break. After shooting just 44% in the first half, the Cougars shot 57% in the second.
Stephen Holt scored the first basket of the half to push the Gaels' lead to 12. It would get no larger.
Kyle Collinsworth, apparently completely free of injury, scored the first four points for BYU. And, slowly but surely, the Cougars cut into the Gaels' lead. Amazingly though, it was their defense that made the greatest impact in the comeback.
The Gaels made just eight field goals in the half. Stephen Holt, reigning WCC player of the week, did his best. Holt had 10 points on 3-4 shooting. The rest of the Gaels combined for just 12 points.
In the middle of the half the Cougars would cut the Gaels' lead to three points on four occasions. Finally, with four minutes left, the Cougars managed to pull closer than three points.
Tyler Haws hit a jumper that made it 51-53. He followed that shot up with a steal on the next possession. The ensuing Matt Carlino fast break lay-in made it 53 all.
Carlino missed a three on the next BYU possession, but Nate Austin was in the right place at the right time and tipped in the miss. BYU had not been in front since holding a short-lived 2-0 lead.
Brad Waldow would tie the game once again, but the Cougars never gave up the lead. Twice the Gaels had a chance to reclaim the lead, but Kerry Carter turned the ball over on the wing each time.
In the final minute, BYU held a three point lead. Dave Rose opted to foul, on two occasions, before the Gaels could get up a shot. Matthew Dellavedova was in the building (his number was retired before the game) but there would be no Dellavedagger tonight.
Stephen Holt was fouled with five seconds left, and he hit both, making it a one point game. BYU got the ball into Skylar Halford. He was fouled. He hit both free throws. With 3.2 seconds left, the Gaels had one last shot to tie the game. Stephen Holt was fouled and missed the front end of a one and one. BYU rebound, game over.
With the win, the Cougars have completed the regular season sweep of Saint Mary's. BYU now sits in second place and holds the tiebreaker over the Gaels. The Cougars should now be back on the right side of the big dance bubble.
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If the season ended today, would BYU get an at-large bid?
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