We’ve got to be strong defensively and play as a team. We did good at some points and then at other times, they move the ball well and we weren’t quick enough to react. —BYU forward Zac Seljaas
Saint Mary’s 75, BYU 62
MORAGA, Calif. — On “Australian Day” at McKeon Pavilion Thursday, Saint Mary’s center Jock Landale put BYU down under once again.
The 6-foot-11 native of Australia scored 32 points — including his first 3-pointer of the season — as the Gaels continued their domination of the Cougars with a convincing 75-62 victory.
Landale was 13 of 19 from the field and collected 14 rebounds in 40 minutes of action.
“He’s really good. He’s strong and he’s able to get good position," said BYU forward Zac Seljaas. "It’s tough, especially when he gets so low that he’s able to turn and score. We’ve got to be strong defensively and play as a team. We did good at some points and then at other times, they move the ball well and we weren’t quick enough to react.”
Guard Emmett Naar recorded 13 points and 12 assists for the Gaels.
“He’s smart," BYU coach Dave Rose said of Naar. "He’s one of the best in the country at assisting the ball."
With the win, West Coast Conference-leading Saint Mary’s (20-2, 9-0) snapped BYU’s four-game winning streak. The Gaels halted the Cougars’ (17-5, 6-3) nine-game winning streak the last time the two teams met on Dec. 30 at the Marriott Center. Landale scored 31 points in that contest.
“It was similar to the game we played before," Rose said. "It was a close game and it came down to where we needed stops. They were just really good. It’s kind of their DNA, in a close game, get the ball to Jock.”
It marked BYU’s fifth consecutive loss to Saint Mary’s overall.
The Cougars were led by TJ Haws (15 points), Yoeli Childs (14) and Elijah Bryant (13).
BYU shot 43 percent while Saint Mary’s shot 54 percent on the night. The Gaels hit 9 of 21 3-pointers while the Cougars were 7 of 17.
“The nine 3s were probably the difference," Rose said. “We had a lot of good looks, a lot of open shots. Against Saint Mary’s, we have to score through contract. It’s part of the way they guard you.”
“We played really well offensively," Haws said. "We got good looks. But our shots weren’t falling for us.”
The Cougars were keeping it close in the second half, trailing by six points when Landale knocked down his first 3-pointer of the year (he had missed his three previous attempts this season) to make the score 59-51 with seven minutes left.
Saint Mary’s extended its lead to as much as 13 in the closing minutes.
Childs didn’t start in the second half as Luke Worthington replaced him in the lineup. But BYU took a lead early in the second half despite committing six fouls over the first five minutes of the half.
A Childs’ hook gave the Cougars a 39-37 advantage with 16:38 remaining.
Saint Mary’s then went on an 8-0 run and build a lead it never relinquished.
BYU missed a flurry of shots near the rim, and the Gaels made the Cougars pay. With seven minutes remaining, Landale let fly a 3-pointer that found the bottom of the net and gave Saint Mary’s a 59.
With 3:03 left, Landale’s traditional 3-point play gave Saint Mary’s a 13-point lead, 69-56.
BYU and Saint Mary’s traded baskets, and traded leads, in the game’s opening minutes. Thanks to 3-pointers by Jahshire Hardnett and Bryant, the Cougars led 10-6 early on.
But Landale was nearly unstoppable, scoring easy baskets near the rim.
After a 3-pointer by Zac Seljaas, BYU was up 17-16 and Bryant put the Cougars ahead 19-18 at the 11:19 mark.
That’s when the Gaels began to assert themselves. Saint Mary’s went on a 13-2 run with guards Emmett Naar, Tanner Krebs and Jordan Ford scoring all of the Gaels’ points. At that stage, Saint Mary’s led 31-21, and it looked like the game was slipping away from the Cougars.
During one stretch, BYU went more than three minutes without a field goal.
But instead of folding, and with Childs sitting on the bench with two fouls, the Cougars clawed back with a 9-2 run to close out the half. The Cougars cut the deficit to 33-30 at intermission.
BYU did a good job on Landale late without Childs. With Dalton Nixon defending Landale, Nixon drew a foul and helped force a Landale turnover.
At halftime, Saint Mary’s was shooting 52 percent compared to 40 percent for the Cougars. Landale had a game-high 12 points at the half while Bryant led BYU with nine.
The Cougars hosts Pacific Saturday.