Provo • In front of the biggest crowd to ever watch a West Coast Conference basketball game, the No. 21-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels made believers out of the BYU Cougars on Saturday night.
The Gaels dominated from start to finish, save a rally by BYU in the closing minutes, and walked out of the Marriott Center with an 80-66 win and plenty of respect from the home team in front of 22,700 fans.
"They are a really good team, and they work really well together as a team," said BYU's Noah Hartsock. "They are one of those teams that, when they make a run, they are going to keep going. They are not going to let a team come back easily."
The Cougars (18-6, 6-3) were hoping their crowd, their depth, and perhaps even the altitude would create a different outcome than the meeting a month ago when Saint Mary's routed them 98-82 in Moraga.
Even with star point guard Matthew Dellavedova not contributing much offensively, the Gaels breezed to the win. Senior Clint Steindl got it going, stepping off the bench to score 14 of his 16 points in the first half.
His 3-point shooting made BYU abandon its zone defense much earlier than it wanted to.
"That was really big," coach Dave Rose said of Steindl's shooting. "That's a big lift, a real big lift for them."
Freshman Brad Waldow punished BYU inside, making 8 of 10 shots en route to a game-high 19 points. Dellavedova, who had 18 points against BYU in Round I, took only four shots, making one. He was 7-for-10 from the free-throw line and finished with 10 points.
"He understands this game as well as probably any point guard that we have ever played against," Rose said. " I mean, you watch enough film on him, he knows how to get all of his teammates involved. He can make big plays with the ball, he can make big plays without the ball. He got a huge rebound late in the game that was at a critical time when we had a little bit of momentum going. He had a big steal. He's a really good player, and he can help his team win scoring, and he can help his team without scoring. The bottom line is, point guard, you are really kind of judged by wins and losses, and this kid, he's a winner."
Saint Mary's vs. BYU
Date Result Shooting Percentage
Dec. 29, 2011 St. Mary's 98, BYU 82 55.4 percent
Jan. 28, 2012 St. Mary's 80, BYU 66 55.8 percent