PROVO — For most of Thursday night's game at Saint Mary's, BYU followed its game plan.
The Cougars limited the Gaels' pick-and-roll, outshot Saint Mary's (51 percent to 36 percent) and were led by Brandon Davies' 25 points and nine rebounds.
But in the end, it wasn't enough in a 64-57 setback before a sellout crowd of 3,500 at McKeon Pavilion.
"It hurts losing," said guard Tyler Haws.
BYU (20-9, 9-5) will have to sit on that painful loss for a week. The Cougars' next game is Thursday (9 p.m., MT, ESPN2) in their regular-season home finale against No. 3 Gonzaga.
At Saint Mary's, the score was tied nine times and the lead changed hands 12 times.
"The game itself was a late-season, grind-it-out battle in conference — two teams that know each other really well," said coach Dave Rose. "To get this win, you've got to make more plays at the end. They're not going to give it to you. You've got to make plays and we didn't make the plays."
The Gaels went 22-of-26 from the free-throw line, while the Cougars were 12-of-19 from the charity stripe.
As a team, BYU had 14 turnovers, which Saint Mary's converted into 12 points. The Gaels outrebounded the Cougars, 33-26, including 13 offensive rebounds. Saint Mary's scored nine second-chance points.
"They hit some tough shots late in the shot clock," said Haws, who scored 12 points, though just four in the second half. "They make you play defense for 35 seconds. At times, I thought we did a good job. Other times, they made tough buckets."
"Everyone's busting their butt to get a stop, and then we give it right back to them," Davies said. "It's hard to handle. Those little plays are what we've got to get rid of to beat good teams."
"Rebounding is a really big key against them," Rose said. "They outrebounded us and we turned it over more than they did. They are pretty opportunistic, turning turnovers into points. Their bench played really well, too."
The Gaels trailed by four at halftime, then took the lead for good midway through the second half. Still, the Cougars kept things close.
With one minute remaining, BYU trailed by just two, 59-57.
But the Cougars' final three possessions featured a pair of missed free throws by Matt Carlino, an offensive foul by Haws, and a missed 3-point attempt by Carlino.
Haws called that offensive foul call "ridiculous."
Saint Mary star Matthew Dellavedova played 40 minutes, and scored 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting, and dished out four assists.
"They're the best pick-and-roll team that we've seen in a long time," Rose said. "(Dellavedova) is really good at managing it. With the zone, we thought we would limit those opportunities. That actually turned out to be a good thing for us. But there were a few times when (the Gaels) got loose, got offensive rebounds and had late shot-clock opportunities and scored. There's a lot of things that we can shore up and do better. But our guys fought hard. They were right there, ready to win it. A couple of tough calls didn't go our way, then they made some plays."
On the bright side for BYU, Davies turned in one of his best performances of the season, going 10-of-16 from the floor.
"He was tough. No one could stop him inside," Haws said. "When Brandon's playing like that, it makes everyone better and it opens a lot of stuff up for everyone else."
And Haws became just the second sophomore in BYU history to eclipse the career 1,000-point plateau. He now has 1,003 career points.
"It's a great accomplishment," Haws said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches. But I wish we could have come out with a win. It hurts losing."