BYU Reels Off Big Run To Take Down Cold-Shooting Saint Mary’s In Moraga

Jan 14, 2021, 11:02 PM | Updated: 11:17 pm
Alex Barcello - BYU Cougars...
Alex Barcello #4 of the Brigham Young Cougars gestures after hitting a 3-pointer against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the West Coast Conference basketball tournament semifinals at the Orleans Arena on March 9, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Gaels defeated the Cougars 51-50. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball pulled off its first victory at Saint Mary’s since 2014. Mark Pope’s team took down the Gaels 62-52 in a game that saw Saint Mary’s go on a drought that spanned nearly 10 minutes in the second half.

BYU/Saint Mary’s Pregame

BYU head coach Mark Pope made changes to his starting lineup. Instead of Connor Harding in the starting lineup, Trevin Knell earned his first career start. Harding scored zero points in BYU’s last game against Gonzaga a week ago.

The Cougars haven’t won in Moraga since 2014. Both teams were looking for their first win in WCC play this season.

1st Half Notes – Gaels control the tempo

BYU opened the game down 5-0, and questions were instantly being raised if this would be similar to what happened a week ago in Spokane. The Cougars quickly put any of those doubts to rest. A “quickie” shot from Kolby Lee got BYU on the board, and then senior captain Alex Barcello had back-to-back possessions where he attacked the rim.

In his first career start, Trevin Knell knocked down a three in the opening minutes to give BYU their first lead of the game at 11-9.

BYU reeled off a 7-0 run before SMC center Matthias Tass knocked down a three to make it 13-12.

After the under-12 media timeout, Mark Pope brought out a lineup that had not been used much this season with Brandon Averette, Spencer Johnson, Gideon George, Caleb Lohner, and Richard Harward on the court. Both teams were exchanging buckets going back-and-forth.

Connor Harding checked into the ball game for the first time off the bench at the 8:15 mark and made his impact felt by knocking down a bucket to tie the game up at 19.

Richard Harward had a pair of turnovers after the under-four timeout with an offensive foul and then losing the ball two possessions later in the post, giving the Gaels a little bit of separation at 26-21. Caleb Lohner knocked down a baby hook to end a little bit of the momentum that was tilting in the Gaels’ favor.

Saint Mary’s, who is in the bottom five of tempo in the country, imposed their play style in the first half. Gaels guard Quinn Clinton hit a deep three to put the Gaels up 29-23; moments later, Alex Barcello took the ball hard to the rim.

BYU went into the halftime locker room trailing Saint Mary’s, 29-25.


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2nd Half Notes – Gideon George shines on the defensive end & SMC goes cold

Barcello continued to make his presence felt on the offensive end against the Gaels. Barcello attacked the rim to get an easy layup to build on his BYU-high scoring total to eight points in the first possession of the second half.

BYU was starting to heat up on the offensive end, but they struggled to get stops on the defensive side. The Gaels built their lead to five after the under-16 media timeout.

At the 14:05 mark, Richard Harward got a big and-one opportunity in the post, but he missed the free throw to put BYU’s deficit at two. Saint Mary’s missed their second consecutive wide-open three in the following possession, but BYU could not capitalize on the offensive end. Logan Johnson then hit a layup off the dribble with his right hand to put SMC back in front by four.

Quinn Clinton hit his third three-pointer of the game, then Barcello answered with a floater in the paint. He’s giving BYU fans flashbacks of former Gaels sharpshooter Calvin Hermanson with his wide-open knockdowns.

Haarms utilized his 7-foot-3 size to get an and-one opportunity to put the game at 48-43 in favor of Saint Mary’s.

With Wyatt Lowell out for the season due to an Achilles injury, Gideon George has been elevated in the rotation with an opportunity to earn more playing time. He’s making the most of his opportunities knocking down a pair of buckets.

Kuhse knocked down a pair of free throws at the 10:36 mark but then went cold shooting the ball. BYU then reeled off a 6-0 run to take a 51-50 lead at the under-four media timeout. Part of that scoring drought from Saint Mary’s was due to George’s impressive defense on Kuhse, who was locking him up.

The tides continued to turn in favor of BYU, and the Cougars could sense their first win in Moraga in seven years.

Brandon Averette made an instinctive play following his shot that was blocked, no one on Saint Mary’s was paying attention, and Averette attacked the hoop to lay it up to put BYU in front by five.

Saint Mary’s shooting woes continued as they missed the front-end of a one-and-one.

BYU built its lead to nine at 59-50 before Logan Johnson ended the Gaels scoring drought with 45.7 remaining. Johnson missed the free throw but got his own rebound. He then slipped and turned the ball over to Averette, who went to the line to knock down one of two free throws.

Geroge then got a defensive rebound to seal the game giving BYU a huge win and closing out the game on a 19-2 run.

BYU took down Saint Mary’s 62-52 to give the Cougars their first win in Moraga since 2014. The victory becomes a Quadrant One win on BYU’s NCAA Tournament resume.

The big comes on a night when BYU hit only one three-pointer. BYU was 1-10 from beyond the arc in the victory.

BYU improves to 10-3 overall and 1-1 in WCC play.

Next up for BYU is a trip to the Hilltop against San Francisco on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT) and will be televised on ESPN2 and heard on KSL NewsRadio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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