SALT LAKE CITY — It came down to the final possession Monday night, as Saint Mary’s topped BYU 51-50 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in the WCC Tournament semifinals.
Jordan Ford hit a spinning long jumper to give the No. 3 seed Gaels (26-7) the lead with 1.4 seconds to play, two nights after his difficult 3-point make proved the clincher in Saint Mary’s quarterfinal win over Pepperdine.
JORDAN. FORD. AGAIN!!!— Saint Mary's Hoops (@saintmaryshoops) March 10, 2020
This game-winning shot sends Saint Mary’s to the WCC Championship for the second straight season. #WCChoops pic.twitter.com/uS5XBdDBUd
No. 2 seed BYU (24-8) couldn’t get a shot off, turning the ball over on a long pass with 0.4 seconds to play. Yoeli Childs intercepted the inbounds pass but couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer signaled the end of the game. It snapped the Cougars’ nine-game winning streak.
- It was a tough shooting night all around, as Saint Mary’s hit 36.5% from the field and BYU shot 36.2%. The Gaels made just four of their first 20 shots in the game, though they shot 45.8% in the second half. The Cougars, who made 6 of 25 shots in the final 20 minutes (24%), went nine-plus minutes in the second half between field goals before a Zac Seljaas putback, plus another point on an and-1, gave BYU a 48-46 lead with 3:31 to play.
- Yoeli Childs scored a game-high 23 points on 8 of 20 shooting, though he had a pair of late shots close-in that missed and could have given BYU some breathing room. Childs added 10 rebounds and passed Kyle Collinsworth early in the second half to become the program’s all-time leading rebounder. Jake Toolson scored 11 points and hit three 3-pointers, all in the first half, as the only other Cougar in double figures. TJ Haws shot 2 of 14 from the field and had just five points.
- Jordan Ford spurred a Saint Mary’s run that got the Gaels back in the game, as he scored eight points in a 12-0 run that pushed Saint Mary’s ahead 46-42 with 6:28 to play. Ford ended the night with 18 points on 7 of 15 shooting. The Gaels also turned 15 BYU turnovers into 16 points.
TBD (NCAA Tournament selection show is Sunday, March 15)
Tuesday vs. Gonzaga in WCC Tournament championship, 7 p.m. MST (ESPN)
3:57, second half
Saint Mary’s 46, BYU 45
Saint Mary’s captured its first lead since 5-4 as the Gaels used a 12-0 run — including two points off free throws courtesy of a technical on Mark Pope — to go ahead 46-42.
BYU, meanwhile, has gone cold from the field, going 8:47 (and counting) without a field goal. The Cougars are shooting just 4 of 17 in the second half.
Jordan Ford led the 12-0 run for Saint Mary’s scoring eight points in that stretch. He has 16 points to lead the Gaels, while Yoeli Childs has 21, with his last three points coming at the free-throw line.
.@jordan_ford_ keeps it close for @SaintMarysHoops— WCC Basketball (@WCChoops) March 10, 2020
Watch the rest of this #WCChoops semifinal on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/jqTa8zR8Ge
8:29, second half
BYU 42, Saint Mary’s 37
Saint Mary’s continues to hang around, as BYU has missed its last four shots and has 12 turnovers. The Gaels, though, are getting little production offensively from Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts. Ford has eight points on 3 of 8 shooting, while Fitts is 1 of 12 from the field and has five points.
Jake Toolson has 11 points for the Cougars, including a pair of recent free throws. BYU’s three points in the past four minutes have all come at the free-throw line.
For Saint Mary’s, big man Dan Fotu fouled out with 10:12 to play, called for an over-the-back on a rebound attempt. He left with 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting and two rebounds.
11:04, second half
BYU 39, Saint Mary’s 32
Saint Mary’s finally heated up from the field, making 5 of 6 field goals during a four-minute stretch to cut the one-time double-digit BYU lead down to 36-32. The Gaels have missed their three most recent shots, though.
Yoeli Childs countered that by hitting a pair of big 3-pointers, the first to put the Cougars up 36-28 after BYU had gone four-plus minutes without a field goal and the second to give the Cougars a 39-32 lead. He has a game-high 17 points, including nine so far in the second half.
15:40, second half
BYU 32, Saint Mary’s 24
BYU’s extended its lead in the early minutes of the second half, though it led by as many as 11 — at 31-20 after scoring the first five points of the half — before the Gaels hit a pair of buckets.
A key moment just happened for Saint Mary’s, as big man Dan Fotu picked up his fourth foul with 15:40 to play, just moments after his third foul came on the offensive end. Fotu has eight points and two rebounds for the Gaels.
BYU is going through a bit of a scoring drought, though, as its gone the past 2:54 without a field goal.
Yoeli Childs passed Kyle Collinsworth as BYU’s all-time leading rebounder with his first rebound of the second half. Collinsworth had 1,047 in his BYU career, and Childs has six on the night, 1,049 total.
I’m partial to @buckybadger but no mascot can match Cosmo from @BYUbasketball. His athleticism, dunking and dancing skills are unrivaled. pic.twitter.com/BwvqV7rg0f— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 10, 2020
BYU 26, Saint Mary’s 20
BYU heads into the break ahead of Saint Mary’s in a contest where points have come at a premium, though the Cougars finished strong with TJ Haws converting an inbound play for a layup to end the half. Jake Toolson leads the Cougar attack with nine points, hitting three 3-pointers while adding five rebounds. Yoeli Childs has eight points and four rebounds.
The Gaels hit 8 of 28 field goals in the first half while BYU shot 11 of 22. Both teams are having trouble with turnovers, with the Cougars turning it over eight times and Saint Mary’s seven.
Dan Fotu and Jordan Ford each have six points for the Gaels, who cut the Cougars’ lead to two twice in the final four minutes of the half before BYU finished the half two buckets in the final 1:01.
3:30, first half
BYU 19, Saint Mary’s 17
BYU pushed its lead to 19-10 before the Gaels cut the Cougar lead down to one possession.
Saint Mary’s is starting to turn the ball over as well — it has six in the game — as it went more than six minutes without a score, before a layup by Kristers Zoriks for the team’s 12 point at the 6:22 mark. Saint Mary’s, though, went on a 7-0 run over two minutes.
BYU has eight turnovers, including one from Childs that led to a Saint Mary’s 3-pointer from Malik Fitts to make it 19-17. Childs has just collected his fourth rebound of the game to tie Kyle Collinsworth as BYU’s all-time leading rebounder, with 1,047 for his career.
The @BYUbasketball fan base is all in here at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas @WCChoops tournament. pic.twitter.com/qJC2liytDJ— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 10, 2020
7:48, first half
BYU 17, Saint Mary’s 10
BYU has clamped down defensively thus far on Saint Mary’s, as the Gaels are shooting just 4 of 20 from the field and haven’t scored since the 10:43 mark of the first half.
Jake Toolson hit his second 3-pointer of the game to put BYU up 15-10, and the Cougars are shooting well, at 10 of 17 from the field. Seven turnovers, however, are limiting BYU’s opportunities offensively.
Toolson leads four BYU scorers with six points, while Jordan Ford also has six points for the Gaels.
11:26, first half
BYU 12, Saint Mary’s 8
The Cougars lead early as they’ve hit 5 of 9 from the field to start the game, including 3-pointers from TJ Haws and Jake Toolson. BYU, though, has five turnovers.
Jordan Ford, coming off a 42-point effort for the Gaels, has six of the eight Saint Mary’s points on a pair of 3-pointers. Saint Mary’s hit one of its first eight shots and two of its first 14 before Ford’s second three.
BYU has 10 rebounds, to six for the Gaels.
Alley-oop! @BYUbasketball takes an early lead! pic.twitter.com/CApuQAgIxz— WCC Basketball (@WCChoops) March 10, 2020
Baxter in, Lee out
Gavin Baxter will replace Kolby Lee in the starting lineup, the Deseret News’ Jeff Call reported. According to the voice of BYU basketball, Greg Wrubell, Lee is out with an illness.
Gavin Baxter, who burned his redshirt to play the final month-plus of the season, is starting tonight in place of Kolby Lee.— Jeff Call (@AJeffreyCall) March 10, 2020
No Kolby Lee tonight; he’s been unable to practice this week due to symptoms of nausea, vomiting and mild dehydration.— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) March 10, 2020
Semifinal No. 2
BYU vs. Saint Mary’s
The No. 2 seed Cougars and No. 3 seed Gaels split the season series at one game each, with BYU victorious in Provo and Saint Mary’s the winner in Moraga, California.
BYU is playing its first game in the WCC Tournament, having received byes all the way to the semifinal round, while Saint Mary’s enters the game having won in a double overtime thriller over Pepperdine on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Gonzaga 81, San Francisco 77
Top seed Gonzaga received a major scare from No. 5 seed San Francisco in the first semifinal of the night before the Zags held on for the 81-77 victory.
The contest stayed a one-possession game through much of the second half before Gonzaga pulled ahead by as many as six in the final minutes, following the Dons’ last lead with 5:11 to play. Killian Tillie hit two clutch free throws late and San Francisco missed a 3-point attempt on its final possession to wrap up the Zags victory.
Gonzaga, which was led by 19 points and 10 rebounds from Tillie, is headed to its 23rd straight WCC Tournament final. Khalil Shabazz paced San Francisco with 17 points.