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Moraga, Calif. • For about three minutes on New Year's Eve, the BYU Cougars gave their fans something to celebrate.
The other 37 minutes on Thursday night against the red-hit Saint Mary's Gaels were a different story.
Saint Mary's dominated the West Coast Conference contest from start to finish aside from a 10-0 run BYU went on to start the second half and ran past the Cougars 85-74 in front of 3,183 at McKeon Pavilion.
"It was their execution in the second half that did us in," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
The second half started well for BYU, which erased a 36-27 halftime deficit with a pair of 3-pointers from Nick Emery and buckets from Kyle Collinsworth and Kyle Davis to grab a brief 37-36 lead.
But the Gaels (3-0 WCC, 12-1) came out of the timeout with the same confidence they displayed in the first half, when they led by as many as 12 points, and went on a 12-3 run to regain control.
"They were just the better team tonight," said BYU forward Nate Austin, who started for the third straight game. "We made a run, but for us, it was too little, too late."
So the Cougars fell to 0-1 in league play, 9-5 overall, and are winless in true road games (0-4). They can change that at 3 p.m. MST Saturday afternoon at Pacific.
Rose said Saint Mary's is having a fine season because coach Randy Bennett has five guys who can go off at any time, and on Thursday it was Calvin Hermanson's turn. The 6-foot-6 sophomore, averaging 9.1 points per game, had 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
He made four big 3-pointers in the second half to right the Gaels after the Cougars surged ahead.
"Hermanson getting hot from 3-point range really helped them," Rose said. "… That was a critical, crucial moment in the game."
The Gaels shot a blistering 56 percent from the field, not surprising considering they entered the game shooting 53.8 percent, best in the country.
Meanwhile, the Cougars started ice-cold, shooting 28 percent in the first half. They missed more than a dozen point-blank shots at the rim.
"We just need to be better," Rose said. "We had opportunity after opportunity [to score] at the rim."
Chase Fischer led BYU with 21 points, including 16 in the second half, but was just 2 of 8 from 3-point range. Kyle Davis added 14 and Nick Emery 11, but the guard trio of Fischer, Emery and Kyle Collinsworth was a combined 16 of 47 from the field.
Austin grabbed 14 rebounds and gave the Cougars some much-needed hustle plays, but Davis picked up his second foul trying to draw a charge midway through the first half and spent the remaining 10 minutes on the bench.
"We didn't do a very good job of getting on to the next play [after a disappointing play]," Rose said.
The Cougars trimmed the deficit to 64-58 with under seven minutes remaining, then had three straight empty possessions while the Gaels' Jock Landale dominated inside. He was 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line for 14 points.
"This is going to sting, just like our other losses," Davis said.
Offensively, the Cougars scored 47 points in the second half, shooting 57.6 percent in the second 20 minutes as Fischer got rolling and Emery hit some 3-pointers.
"Forty-seven points in the second half, you would think that would be enough to win," Davis said.