MORAGA, Calif. — Going into this weekend’s road trip to Northern California, BYU coach Dave Rose said the keys to winning would be defending the 3-point line and staying out of foul trouble.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they didn’t do either in Thursday’s 89-82 loss at Pacific.
BYU will need to do both much more effectively if it hopes to win Saturday (6 p.m. MST, ESPN2) at St. Mary’s.
The Cougars are 2-5 this season on the road in West Coast Conference play, and Thursday's loss was crippling to their NCAA tournament at-large hopes.
“We’ve just got to find a way to win on the road. This taste in our mouths is awful,” said BYU guard Tyler Haws, who fouled out Thursday for the first time in his career after scoring 20 points. “I still have a lot of confidence in everyone in that locker room. Everyone still believes. There’s no time to hang our heads.”
The Cougars defeated the Gaels two weeks ago in Provo, 84-71, but they have never won at McKeon Pavilion.
“If (Thursday’s loss) motivates us to play harder and play with a chip on our shoulder, that’s what you have to have against a team like St. Mary’s, especially on their court,” Haws said.
BYU (17-10 overall, 9-5) is currently in third place in the WCC, one-half game behind second-place St. Mary’s (9-4) and one-half game ahead of fourth-place San Francisco (8-5).
The Cougars’ deficiencies showed up again at Pacific, which knocked down 10 3-pointers, including seven in the second half.
“When it was time to pull the trigger,” coach Dave Rose said of the Tigers, “they had guys step up and do it.”
In BYU’s five conference road losses, opponents are shooting 51 percent from 3-point territory.
St. Mary’s has some solid outside shooters, like Stephen Holt, plus it features a challenging inside presence with Brad Waldow, who gave the Cougars fits at times in Provo, scoring 25 points.
Thursday, Cougar forwards Eric Mika, Nate Austin and Luke Worthington were plagued with foul trouble. They’ll need to avoid fouls Saturday so they can be on the floor to try to keep Waldow in check.
“It’s going to be another tough one,” Carlino said of the St. Mary’s game. “They play so hard. We’ve just got to match their intensity.”
The Gaels plan to retire the number of former star Matthew Dellavedova, who finished his career last season and is now playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, during a ceremony Saturday.
“They do it quick,” Haws said of the number retirement. BYU legend Danny Ainge waited more than 20 years after his collegiate career ended to have his number retired.
After Thursday’s bitter disappointment, the Cougars are ready to put the setback at Pacific behind them.
“We’ve been through this. We know what’s coming. Hopefully our guys will be ready,” Rose said. “Basically, the last three or four minutes of our conversation (in the locker room after the loss to Pacific) was to move on. That’s what we’re going to do — move on.”
The last time BYU was on the road, it dropped a pair to Portland and Gonzaga.
“We’ve just got to move on to the next one,” said guard Matt Carlino, who scored a season-high 28 points at Pacific. “We can’t let this turn into two (losses) again. If we lose this first one, we’ve got to win this one at St. Mary’s now. We’ve got to put this one behind us and get better from it.”
“There’s no time to think about (Thursday’s loss),” Haws said. “We’ve got a big game Saturday. We’ve got to move on.”
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