PROVO — BYU's otherwise remarkable season hit another speed bump on Thursday courtesy of a 78-75 loss to Saint Mary's in front of 3,981 fans, most of them grade-school children during the team's annual "Kid's Day." It was the third loss in a row for the Cougars after an impressive 11-game win streak that vaulted them into the national rankings.
"You have to give Saint Mary’s a lot of credit," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "I thought the last four or five minutes of the game they did a really great job at executing a lot better than we did. They got the shots that they wanted, they spread it out and took advantage of what they had on us. They got better shots, and when it comes down to that, a lot of times you’re going to win the game because of that."
Megan McKay led the way for the Gaels, scoring a team-high 19 points, although it was the clutch play of guard Jasmine Forcadilla that sealed the game late.
The Cougars were led by Paisley Johnson, who scored a game-high 20 points with Shaylee Gonzales adding 13. Playing big off the bench was forward Jasmine Moody, who contributed 12 points and seven rebounds while fighting foul trouble for most of the game.
As mentioned, the loss was the third straight for the Cougars, which is never good news, although Judkins did like some things he saw on Thursday.
"At least we played better today than we did over the last week," Judkins said. "That's a positive thing for this team, but we had too many people taking shots when they shouldn't have been taking them and we made some key defensive mistakes."
Saint Mary's rushed out to a 21-12 lead after one quarter with the Cougars committing a lot of fouls, which started some debilitating foul trouble for several players. The Cougars rebounded in the second quarter, managing to trail just 39-35 at the half.
Judkins' team appeared to fix whatever ailed them throughout the first half in the third quarter, however, building a 60-53 lead heading into the fourth, although players feel the lead should have been more.
"We lost the momentum," Johnson said regarding the Cougars missing out to extend the lead further at the end of the third. "We didn't execute what we needed to do and we became complacent. We definitely stepped off the gas pedal."2 comments on this story
Although Saint Mary's wasn't able to seize on the momentum yielded by BYU much to end the third, that changed significantly in the fourth. A quick 8-0 run by the Gaels to start the fourth led to a 61-60 lead, with the Cougars left game a bit too competitive down the stretch than Judkins and his players would have preferred.
The teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter after the initial Saint Mary's run, until the final minute, when a lay-up by McKay put the Gaels up 75-70 with 1:10 left on the clock. The Cougars were unable to close during the final minute to suffer a third-straight loss.
With the loss, the Cougars fall to 17-6 overall and 9-3 in West Coast Conference play. They'll look to rebound this Saturday with a home game against Pacific.