College basketball • Cougars may not get NCAA Tournament bid.
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Two months from now, the BYU Cougars will remember these 2.5 seconds.
Right after BYU's Tyler Haws seemingly delivered a very meaningful victory Wednesday night, Saint Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova responded with a running, 35-foot 3-pointer that sailed through the air as the buzzer sounded and gave the Gaels a 70-69 win at the Marriott Center.
"I'm just kind of stunned … I thought we had the game won," said Haws, and he was not the only one in the building thinking that way.
Most of the 14,857 fans were in that mode and so, to an unhealthy degree, were some percentage of BYU's five players on the court.
As it turned out, no clutch shot in BYU history was celebrated for less time than Haws' twisting jumper in the lane. Or, more accurately, the Cougars enjoyed it a little bit too long. With BYU coach Dave Rose frantically waving for his players to get back on defense, Dellavedova drove down the court, weaved past Anson Winder and drilled his game-winner.
Rose, of course, reserved judgment until watching the game film. He probably won't like what he sees in that sequence.
"Things happened quick," Rose said. "There's a lot of things you can learn from that, but he had to make a pretty tough shot."
So ended a wild game in which BYU led by 16 points early in the first half, then fell behind by six midway through the second half. After that, the teams went back and forth to the finish. Haws' two free throws cut the Saint Mary's lead to 53-51 with 7:53 remaining, then the biggest lead for either team was two points the rest of the way.
In the end, the Gaels (14-4) became the rare college basketball team that wins in Logan and Provo in the same season, having beaten Utah State 67-58 in November.
Those are the kinds of victories that look good on an NCAA Tournament entry blank. Conversely, the Cougars (14-5) will regret letting this would-be win get away, if the West Coast Conference earns only two bids this season.
"This one will sting," Rose said. "Hopefully, we can get past it and move on."
But the Cougars will have to do something special to overcome the damage done by this defeat. They'll have to upset Gonzaga, win at Saint Mary's in late February or beat the Gaels in potentially a semifinal meeting in the WCC Tournament if they want to enhance their NCAA credentials.
Otherwise, they'll certainly lament that final sequence which came after a terrific shot by Haws, who drove from the right corner into the lane, squared himself and delivered a perfect shot. The Cougars also will wish they'd taken better advantage of an ideal start.
Saint Mary's made only 4 of its first 20 shots, while trailing 20-4 and then 26-11. The Gaels responded by making seven shots in a row, before missing their last four of the first half as BYU took a 34-27 lead.
BYU fell behind 48-42, but survived a 6-minute, 40-second stretch when Brandon Davies was on the bench with four fouls. Thanks mostly to Haws and Brock Zylstra, the Cougars outscored Saint Mary's 16-9 without Davies, who later fouled out and finished with 12 points and zero rebounds 7.7 below his average.
Dellavedova, meanwhile, needed the full 40 minutes of this game to hit his scoring average (17.3). Having produced only two points in the first half, the reigning WCC Player of the Year scored his 16th, 17th and 18th points on a shot that will haunt BYU for a long, long time.