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BYU vs St. Mary's recap: Another slow start dooms the Cougars in 85-74 loss to the Gaels

Another slow start put the Cougars in an early hole.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU Cougars had a tall task in front of them as they started off conference play on the road, against the 11-1 Saint Mary Gaels. Although the Gaels record may be misleading due to their strength of schedule, they came out strong against the Cougars in the first half. BYU was the first to score and hit a couple of buckets early to take a 7-2 lead. Soon after the Gaels found a way to put a lid on the Cougars hoop and took control of the game. The biggest difference may have been the strong inside play from the Gaels big men as they swatted and altered the majority of the inside shots that the Cougars took. When they weren't swatting or taking the ball away, they were making it impossible for the BYU shooters to hit a shot from the paint.

The lack of success led to frustration and missed open shots from all over the court. In reality, with the way the Cougars played, they were lucky to still be in the game at halftime. Late in the half the Cougars trailed by 12 but managed to pull within nine before the buzzer. While the Gaels scored 36, the Cougars could only muster up 27 points for their lowest output in a half of the season. Not only did they score the lowest amount of points, they also managed to have their worst shooting half as they only hit 28% from the floor.

As the second half started the roles flipped and BYU found all the momentum. Each team turned the ball over on their first possession, but the Cougars found their shot soon after. After a Kyle Collinsworth missed a shot, but rebounded the ball and put it back, the Cougars defense stepped up with a block by Kyle Davis. Two Nick Emery three-pointers and a Davis reverse layup gave the Cougars their first lead since early at 37-36. The 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the half led to a quick timeout for the Gaels. After regrouping on the sidelines, the Gaels ended the Cougars scoring run and went on a 7-2 run to take a 43-39 lead into the first media timeout. Things continued to turn south for the Cougars as the Gaels rediscovered their shot and used the three to build their lead back up to eight.

The Cougars would struggle for the rest of the half as they couldn't contain the three-point shooting by the Gaels as Calvin Hermanson hit shot after shot en-route to being the high scorer for the game. With the Cougars missing shots, and turning the ball over, the Gaels quickly built their lead to double-digits and took their largest lead of the game at 13 with three minutes to go. BYU tried to make one last run but turnovers and their inability to create stops on defense doomed them in the end. With the 85-74 win the Gaels improved to 12-1 and the Cougars fell to 9-5 on the year.

Hermanson and Fischer led all scorers with 21 but four other Gaels scored in double digits. Nick Emery and Kyle Davis also scored in double-digits for the Cougars while Nate Austin pulled down 14 rebounds. The 74 points is the 2nd lowest scoring output of the season for the Cougars. BYU will stay on the road and will play on Saturday against the Pacific Tigers.