EditorsNote: adds “percent” as last word in last graf
Jordan Ford knocked down the winning 15-footer with 1.4 seconds remaining as Saint Mary’s defeated No. 14 BYU 51-50 in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals on Monday night in Las Vegas.
Ford scored 18 points to catapult the third-seeded Gaels (26-7) into Tuesday’s championship game, where they face top-seeded Gonzaga for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Yoeli Childs recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds for the second-seeded Cougars (24-8), who had a nine-game winning streak halted.
BYU had one last chance, but Jake Toolson’s long heave bounced off the hands off Childs near the sideline in the frontcourt and landed out of bounds. The Gaels then inbounded the ball to run out the clock.
Dan Fotu added 10 points for Saint Mary’s, which overcame an 11-point, second-half deficit. The Gaels shot just 36.5 percent from the field and 4 of 18 from 3-point range.
Toolson added 11 points for the Cougars, who shot 36.2 percent and were 7 of 18 from behind the arc. BYU hit just 6 of 25 shots (24 percent) in the second half.
Childs scored with 1:51 remaining to give BYU a 50-47 lead. Malik Fitts drove for a hoop 29 seconds later to pull the Gaels within one.
Childs missed a short jumper in the lane with 23 seconds remaining to give Saint Mary’s and Ford the opportunity to win the game.
Earlier, Alex Barcello drained a 3-pointer and Childs followed with an inside hoop as BYU stretched a six-point halftime lead to 31-20.
The Gaels answered with a 12-5 run to pull within 36-32 on a put-back by Jock Perry with 12:57 remaining.
Childs split two free throws to give the Cougars a 42-34 with 10:11 left. But Saint Mary’s rattled off the next 12 points — eight from Ford — to take a 46-42 lead with 6:28 remaining.
Childs made three of four free throws to halt the burst and move the Cougars within one. Zac Seljaas converted a three-point play with 3:31 left to give BYU a 48-46 lead.
Fitts split two free throws to pull Saint Mary’s within one with 2:14 remaining.
Toolson scored nine points on three first-half 3-pointers and Childs added eight points as the Cougars led 26-20 at the break. BYU shot 50 percent in the half, while Saint Mary’s was at a meager 28.6 percent.
—Field Level Media