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Video & analysis: BYU keeps Waldow in check, wins rebounding battle in key victory

PROVO — Last month, Saint Mary's center Brad Waldow might as well have been Shaquille O'Neal, the way he bullied BYU inside during the Gaels' victory over the Cougars in California.

On Thursday night, though, BYU was determined to make sure Waldow and his teammates wouldn't have the upper hand again, and the Cougars delivered in a dominant 82-60 victory over Saint Mary's at the Marriott Center.

A big part of BYU's success came from shutting down two of the intertwining issues that plagued the Cougars in their 82-77 loss to the Gaels in January — the 270-pound Waldow and offensive rebounding.

When they last met, Waldow proved instrumental in Saint Mary's victory over the Cougars, as he piled up 24 points and 14 rebounds.

Using a combination of big men — Corbin Kaufusi, Luke Worthington and Ryan Andrus — in defense on Waldow Thursday, BYU found ways to make the game much tougher for the 6-foot-10 player this time around.

Kaufusi set the tone for the night on Saint Mary's opening possession, blocking Waldow's first shot attempt. Kaufusi had a career-high four blocks in the game, the most by a Cougar this season.

Minutes later, Worthington drew an offensive foul on Waldow, his first foul of the game, and Andrus spent extensive time defending Saint Mary's top scorer in the first half.

That tactics worked, as Waldow didn't hit his first field goal of the game until 5:13 remained in the first half. By then, the Cougars had built a 19-point lead and held a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

While Waldow finished the night with 17 points, he had to work hard for those points. He made 6-of-12 shots, most coming in the second half, and hit 5-of-10 free throws while adding five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot to go along with three fouls and three turnovers.

BYU coaches, utilizing players like forward Josh Sharp, also picked and chose wisely much of the night when to double-team Waldow.

“They didn’t help off our shooters tonight," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "When Brad got the ball, they would bring help from the baseline."

That type of hustle and effort was seen in the rebounding department as well, as the Cougars outrebounded the Gaels, 37-26. That included a 13-9 edge on the offensive glass.

In this year's previous matchup, three Gaels had four or more offensive rebounds, including a team-high seven from Waldow, as the Gaels had 17 offensive boards to seven for BYU.

Sharp, making his second straight start, led BYU with five offensive rebounds in the rematch, while Waldow finished with two offensive boards. Saint Mary's reserve Dane Pineau had three offensive rebounds to lead the Gaels.

“Rebounding is such a huge deal for us," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We outrebounded them and that momentum led to quite a few transition baskets.”

The Cougars won in the transition game, scoring 10 fast-break points to two for Saint Mary's.

BYU had an even greater advantage on second-chance points, scoring 21 points in that category to 11 for Saint Mary's. One of those putbacks was a dunk by Sharp in the opening moments of the second half that helped spark a Cougar 6-0 run to push their lead to 18 points.

In last matchup, the Gaels won the second-chance battle, 12-6.

“We knew we had to get the 50-50 balls to win and that's where our mindset was,” Sharp said.

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd