The Gaels picked up a huge and great win tonight at McKeon pavilion against BYU. Tonight’s win assures the Gaels of a second place minimum finish in the WCC conference.
The Gaels and Cougars were both facing must-win games tonight and came out playing hard. First to score was Brad Waldow for the Gaels giving the Gaels a rare lead in the first half 2-0 with 19:28.
The Gaels struggled trying to set the pace but never seemed to break past the BYU zone defense. Overall poor shooting, with overall great defense, especially on the Gael side, kept the score close the entire first half.
The Gaels fell to their biggest deficit of seven points; 13-6 with 14:25. They followed with a 7-0 run to tie the game with 12:30. The Gaels and Cougars traded leads and were tied 25-25 with 3:34 in the first half. For the rest of the half, BYU outscore the Gaels 7-3 and lead 32-28 at the buzzer.
Statistically in the first half, the Gaels went 9-26 (34.6%) from the floor and 4-14 (28.6) from threes. The bench put up 11 and the zone BYU defense held the Gaels to eight in the paint.
Leading the way for the Gaels in the half were both Matthew Dellavedova and Beau Levesque with eight. The defensive performance of Jordan Giusti was also of note. He held Matt Carlino to zero.
The Cougars went a solid 13-22 (59.1%) from the floor and 2-5 (40.0%) from threes. They put up 18 from the paint and their bench had nine.
At the top of scoring was Brandon Davies with 12. Tyler Haws had eight.
In the second half, BYU scored first setting the Gaels down six early on. The Gaels rallied back and built their own lead to five 41-36 with 14:20 to play. The Cougars fought back and were able to tie the score 41-41 with 13:39. The game was again tied 44-44 with 10:50. The Gaels built the lead back to six 54-48 with 5:58. BYU rallied back again to cut the lead to one with 5:03; 54-53. With 2:07 to play the Gael lead was two. BYU couldn’t close the gap from that point and the Gaels held on to win.
Key to the Gael win tonight was free throw shooting. The Gaels bounced back from the line and went 22-26 (84.6%). Two clutch free throws were made by Beau Levesque with 10.1 seconds remaining in the game. This gave the Gaels a 62-57 lead. Dellavedova was fouled with 2.8 seconds remaining and added insult to injury by hitting both, sealing the Gael victory 64-57. On the defensive end again Jordan Giusti did the job holding Carlino to two points for the game.
For the game, the Gaels went 18-50 (36.0%) from the floor and 6-24 (25%) from beyond the arc. They struggled from within the paint with 16. Their bench had 24.
In scoring, Dellavedova had 20. Levesque had 17 with a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line.
The Cougars went 21-41 (51.2%) from the floor and 3-9 (33.3%) from beyond the arc. The Cougars put up 33 points from the paint and their bench had nine.
Leading in scoring for BYU was Davies with 25. Haws had 12.
The Gaels next face Creighton in another potential huge win opportunity Saturday afternoon at 3pm. The game can be seen on ESPN2.