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BYU basketball: Cougars suffer another humiliating defeat to Saint Mary's

Published March 7, 2017 7:47 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Las Vegas • Sixteen days later, BYU still hasn't figured out a way to play a competitive basketball game against No. 19 Saint Mary's.

Not even close.

Forget all that good will the Cougars built up with their fans after knocking off No. 1-ranked Gonzaga last month. They gave a lot of it back Monday night in a West Coast Conference tournament semifinal, falling 81-50 to the ultra-efficient Gaels at Orleans Arena.



It was the largest margin of defeat in coach Dave Rose's 12-year tenure.

"We were a couple steps slow in everything we did," Rose said. "We got them turned on … and then we had a hard time making a basket at the start of the game. And it is tough when you are trying to keep the guys up, keep them encouraged, and it is not going your way."

The Cougars (22-11) will now turn their attention to a bid in the NIT for the third time in five years. Saint Mary's (28-3) will meet No. 4 Gonzaga (31-1) in the championship game Tuesday night, having become the first team to beat a Rose-coached team three times in a single season.

All three were blowouts, but Monday's was the most humiliating for the Cougars, who were never in it.

"This is a young team that gets a lot of energy from scoring points, and it is hard to score against those guys," Rose said. "I am disappointed in how we responded to challenges early in that first half, and then when the game kinda got away from us, every single thing they do in practice, and work on, and they are good at, they were able to just pick us apart."

Australian imports Jock Landale (22 points) and Emmett Naar (12 points, 11 assists) led the way for the Gaels, and BYU-killer Calvin Hermanson added 14. The Gaels took a 36-20 halftime lead and shot 71 percent in the second half to turn it into a laugher.

"Seventy-one percent is an absurd number," SMC coach Randy Bennett said.

For BYU, that describes the entire game.

"Moving forward, we just have to let it sting," said BYU guard Elijah Bryant. "That way it will motivate us for the next game."

Every starter struggled on the offensive end, especially sophomore stars Eric Mika and Nick Emery, who failed to score for the first time in his career, going 0 for 7 from the field. Mika was 5 for 13 for 10 points, with seven turnovers, in getting outplayed by fellow all-WCC first teamer Landale for the second-straight game.

Monday's game, the first time the two WCC powers have met in the conference tournament, was eerily similar to SMC's 81-68 win in Moraga in January and its 70-57 win in Provo on Feb. 18. The Gaels controlled the entire contest again, taking a quick 22-11 lead and holding off a mild BYU rally fueled by a couple of TJ Haws' 3-pointers a few minutes later. Haws finished with 13, but was 5 of 14 as the famed Lone Peak Three combined to go 10 for 34.

"If you watched the game tonight, you have to be a little bit impressed," Bennett said, when asked if the Gaels punched their NCAA Tournament ticket with the win.

The Cougars got off to a brutal start, missing 12 of their first 14 shots and falling behind 14-4. Mika didn't score until 8:25 remained in the first half, but by then it was 21-11 and the Gaels were in total control.

"It is hard to say what went wrong," Rose said of the game's opening. "I can't fault their effort, at least for awhile. … We looked like we didn't practice [Sunday], which we didn't."

Haws hit a pair of 3-pointers and the Gaels had three straight empty possessions with around six minutes remaining in the half, allowing BYU to cut the big deficit to 25-17. That's as close as they got to keeping the national audience tuned in after the 9:30 p.m. MST tipoff.

The Cougars were shooting a woeful 26 percent (7 of 27) at the time, but got back in it by forcing a couple turnovers and shot clock violations.

Saint Mary's turned it on just before halftime, though, scoring on five of six possessions to take a 36-20 lead at the break and then continued its momentum into the second half.

The Cougars got just 11 free-throw attempts, causing Rose to tell a reporter he was "asking the wrong guys" about the lack of fouls called in the physical game.

"They should probably have a press conference for the officials," he said. "I think you're right [about the low number]. I agree."

Rose said the Cougars are eager to get back out on the court.

"It is a young group," he said. "Hopefully we will continue to play."

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay —

Storylines

• The Gaels hand the Cougars their worst loss in the Dave Rose era.

• Nick Emery goes 0 for 7 and fails to score for first time in his BYU career.

• TJ Haws leads BYU with 13 points, but the Cougars record just five assists on 19 baskets.

 

 

 

 

 

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