LAS VEGAS — Saint Mary’s went into its matchup with BYU in the West Coast Conference Tournament women's basketball semifinals leading the league in rebounding on both ends of the floor.
Against the Cougars, the Gaels put those rebounding efforts on display.
Saint Mary’s outrebounded BYU 50-25, including 21-10 on the offensive end, as the Gaels beat the Cougars 59-49 at Orleans Arena. Those offensive rebounds gave the Gaels — who barely edged BYU in field goal shooting 34.5 percent to 33.9 — a significant 12-4 edge in second-chance points.
Broken down, Saint Mary's had six second-chance points (on seven offensive rebounds) in the first quarter, zero (on six rebounds) in the second quarter, four points (on three rebounds) in the third quarter and two points (on five rebounds) in the final quarter.
"To get outrebounded by double and have 21 offensive rebounds, it is pretty hard to beat someone with that," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said.
The Gaels' final second-chance points came at a key moment in the fourth quarter, after Saint Mary's hit two straight 3-pointers to start the final period and led 47-39. Almost four minutes passed before another score, when Sydney Raggio scored off an assist from Stella Beck and gave the Gaels their first double-digit lead with 5:16 remaining.
Saint Mary's forward Megan McKay, who finished the night with a game-high 14 rebounds and six offensive boards, came up with key offensive rebound to set up the score. Here's how the action played out.
The Gaels, with BYU employing a full-court press and man-to-man defense, successfully ran the shot clock down before Carly Turner put up a shot near the free-throw line with the Cougars' Kristine Nielson on defense. The ball bounced off the back of the rim and hit the floor before anyone could get to it.
That's when McKay, who was boxing out BYU's Kalani Purcell on the play, ran to the other side of the key and tipped the ball over the head of hard-charging BYU guard Cassie Broadhead.
McKay successfully corraled the board beyond the 3-point line, and Saint Mary's reset its offense.
The Gaels then ran more time off the clock before Saint Mary's guard Stella Beck drove toward the middle of the key and, with BYU guard Makenzi Pulsipher on defense and Micaelee Orton coming over to help, threaded a pass to a cutting Raggio on the baseline.
Raggio crossed underneath the basket and laid in a shot in front of Broadhead, making it a 10-point game. The Gaels ran 47 seconds off the clock with that possession.
"There was a lot of rebounds that I got today because of other girls boxing out that allows more area for me to to move around and get the ball," McKay said. "I think that's a credit to all our team."