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Jock Landale leads No. 19 Saint Mary's Gaels over Brigham Young Cougars

By Jake Curtis, The Sports Xchange  

BYU head coach Dave Rose could only watch as his team fell 81-68 to St. Mary's in a West Coast Conference game Thursday night on the Gaels' home court. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
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MORAGA, Calif. -- A classic battle of big men in the paint provided the entertainment, but it was Saint Mary's supporting cast that enabled the No. 19 Gaels to beat Brigham Young 81-68 in a West Coast Conference game Thursday night on the Gaels' home court.
Landale, a 6-foot-11 center, scored 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting and added nine rebounds and six assists for the Gaels (13-1, 3-0), who won their seventh straight game.
Eric Mika, BYU's 6-10 big man, scored 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting and added 10 rebounds for the Cougars (11-5, 2-1).
"It was awesome," Landale said of his individual matchup. "He's such a great competitor and such a good guy. He plays a lot like me, and going against someone like you is always tough."
Mika did not score in the final 11:24, which hindered the Cougars' comeback bid, but he was equally impressed with his matchup in the paint against Landale.
"He's a really, really good player," Mika said of Landale. "He's big, he can rebound and he's super skilled. Playing against him was awesome."
While those two played to a virtual standstill, Saint Mary's got 17 points from Emmett Naar and 15 from Calvin Hermanson.
The only other BYU player who scored in double figures was Elijah Bryant, who scored 11 points in his first game back after missing 10 with a knee problem.
"I thought Mika hit some tough shots all night," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said, "and Jock did the same thing. Those guys were pretty even and we got a little more from the rest of our guys."
The Cougars committed only three turnovers but had a four-game winning streak halted because they could not get defensive stops when they needed them.
Saint Mary's shot 55.4 percent for the game and 64.3 percent in the first half, which ended with the Gaels holding a 44-36 lead.
The Gaels broke away from a 20-20 tie by scoring 13 straight points in a span of 2:17. Tanner Kreps broke the deadlock with a 3-point shot that began the run, and Joe Rahon, who had 10 points and eight assists, finished the spurt with a fastbreak layup that gave Saint Mary's a 33-20 lead with 8:57 left in the first half. The Gaels hit nine shots in a row during that spurt.
"We needed a stop," Mika said. "If we could have stopped one of their runs it would have been big."
Saint Mary's increased its eight-point halftime lead to 13 when Naar hit a long 3-pointer with 11:40 remaining. Mika scored his final points to make it an 11-point game, but the lead grew to 14 points with 8:15 left.
"You can't force your will on them," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "They're really an efficient team. They have a first option, a second option, a third option. If you don't give help on the big man he can score, and if you give help on him, he's good at finding the open man."
The Gaels finished with 21 assists against eight turnovers.
"That's what we try to be, a team that passes the ball," Bennett said.
The Gaels also outrebounded BYU 37-27.
"They're very disciplined," Bryant said. "They don't take very many bad shots."
-- BYU F Corbin Kaufusi, who started 23 games last season, played his third game this season since joining the team after playing for the Cougars' football team. He played only five minutes in his first two games combined.
-- Saint Mary's entered Thursday's game ranked third in the country in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 57.3 points per game.
-- BYU's next game is Saturday at home against Pacific. Sant Mary's plays a road contest against San Francisco on Saturday.

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