MORAGA, Calif. – The BYU men’s basketball team suffered an 85-74 loss to Saint Mary’s in the Cougars’ West Coast Conference opener Thursday in McKeon Pavilion.
BYU (9-5, 0-1) made up for a first-half field goal percentage of 28.2 percent by making 19 of 33 in the second half for 57.6 percent, but it wasn’t enough against an SMC team that shot 56.4 percent on the night. The Gaels (12-1, 3-0) were the nation’s top shooting team entering the game with a 53.8 percent mark for the season.
Three Cougars scored in double figures, led by Chase Fischer’s 21 points. Kyle Davis scored 14 points and Nick Emery added 11. Nate Austin posted season highs with six points and 14 rebounds. Jordan Chatman chipped in eight points and Kyle Collinsworth had eight points, six rebounds, six assists and one block.
“I thought we played hard enough to win tonight,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We’re just not playing as well as we needed to play. We just got out-executed tonight.”
Davis started the game off with a dunk to get BYU on the board and both teams traded scores out of the gate. Nate Austin drained a 15-footer on the baseline to give BYU a 9-8 edge with 14:14 left in the first half. Austin had five rebounds in the first five minutes of action.
Fischer ended a 6-0 run by the Gaels with a layup at the 11:22 mark to cut the SMC lead down to 15-11.
Saint Mary’s got hot again with a trey and a two on its next possession for a 10-point cushion at 29-19 with four minutes to go until halftime.
BYU trailed 36-27 at the half. The Cougars were cold from the field, knocking down just 11 of 39 shots. Austin led BYU in the first half with season highs of six points and nine rebounds.
After halftime, BYU scored the first 10 points, including two treys from Emery, to go back in front 37-36 after less than three minutes of action.
Saint Mary’s answered with a 12-3 run to regain control and took a 48-40 lead with 13:41 to play.
The Cougars trimmed the deficit to three points, but the Gaels pushed ahead again, stretching the lead to double digits again at 70-58 with five minutes to go.
The lead swelled to as many as 15 points and BYU fell by a final of 85-74.
BYU travels to Stockton, Calif., to take on Pacific at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday, Jan. 2. The game will be televised on TWC, ROOT and CSN Bay Area and can be heard on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
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