BYU's struggle shooting from outside continued Saturday night, while Clint Steindl knocked down four early three-pointers to put BYU in a first-half hole. The Gaels rode that lead to an 80-66 win to knock the Cougars down the WCC ladder and notch another win.
BYU was 2-13 from deep on the night, giving BYU a running total of 11-73 (.131) from downtown in the last four games.
It's a strange stretch for the Cougars, one that is in stark contrast to the effort five games ago. Five games ago, BYU hit 11-24 from three-point land, the exact total number of makes in four games since.
Steindl's first half shooting display helped put Saint Mary's up 40-28 at the half. With the refs struggling to know how to keep the game in control, some questionable calls led to fan unrest -- enough so that BYU students began to throw stuff on the floor and were issued a warning from officials.
The second half began with Matthew Dellavedova tripping on his own feet just four seconds in. When a foul was whistled on Anson Winder, some debris found its way on the court and BYU was issued a technical foul. Dellavedova made both free throws, then Jorden Page buried a three just seven seconds later. Eleven seconds into the second half, the deficit grew from 10 to 15.
An aside: BYU students, you made many BYU fans ashamed tonight. After a warning was issued, some of you threw crap on the floor again and cost the team points. It's not a stretch to say you should be barred from all future sporting events. Those who decided to rain down trash on the court after the final buzzer, nice work. Our pleasant honeymoon with the WCC is over.
With the crowd ready to reenact Mountain Meadows on the referees, BYU tried to work back into it. Lost in the emotion of the night was the play of Matt Carlino in the second half. After being benched for Craig Cusick, who provided a steadying hand, Carlino came back in and got aggressive. Instead of woefully casting up treys, Matt got to the rack. With BYU down 14, Carlino would get two layups, a sweet step-back jumper off a crossover at the free-throw line, another layup, a free throw, and another jumper. Over five minutes of play, the freshman scored 11 of BYU's 12 points and had the Cougars within nine points with two-and-a-half minutes to play.
But after the last jumper of that sequence, it all fell apart. Carlino pressured Jorden Page as he brought the ball up the floor. Right in front of the official (and BYU's bench), Page gave Carlino a shove to clear space. As Carlino tumbled to the floor, a foul was whistled ... on Carlino. Full fan disclosure: at first, I thought it was a close call, but still a bad call as I thought Carlino had proper defensive position. But replay clearly showed a definitive shove from Page.
Dave Rose went nuts, rightfully so, and was whistled for a technical. Dellavedova made one of two on the technical shots, then Page hit both of his freebies. Just like that, it was back to a 12-point game with two minutes left, and it was too much to overcome.
Noah Hartsock again led BYU in scoring with 15 points on only nine shots. Carlino's smart home stretch gave him 15 as well, with Brandon Davies adding 14. Brad Waldow was a beast in the post for the Gaels, scoring 19 points on 8-10 shooting. Steindl's hot shooting gave him 16 points on the night.
In the big picture, the loss ended any hope the Cougars had of winning the regular-season title. The goal now would be the 2-seed for the conference tournament, as the 1- and 2-seeds get double byes and only need to win twice to win the conference tournament. Since Gonzaga has just one loss and BYU has three, the 2-seed may only be attainable by sweeping the Zags.
Given performances against the conference's best (SMC) and third-best (LMU) non-BYU teams, my gut tells me that would be expecting too much.