Tyler Haws led all scorers with 23 points, including a jumper in the lane that gave BYU a 69-67 lead with 2.5 seconds to play. Dellavedova spoiled Haws's would-be game-winner with a heave from just beyond half-court that ripped the net just after time expired, leaving the home crowd stunned.
“I thought this was a great college basketball game," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "Two teams battling hard and players making plays. It was a physical game, and all the players responded to that. It all came down to a guy making a really tough play late in the game. We have to congratulate Saint Mary’s. They played well, came in here and got a big win. Hopefully our guys can learn from this, respond and come back and give another good effort on Saturday.”
BYU (14-6, 4-2) started the game on fire, making eight of its first 12 shots during a 20-4 run that spanned the first eight minutes of the game. Matt Carlino scored 10 points during the opening run and finished the game with 16 to go with five assists and four rebounds.
The Cougars played exceptionally well on defense during their opening run, limiting the Gaels (15-4, 4-1) to 15 percent shooting and forcing four turnovers. On their first defensive possession, the Cougars forced the visiting team into a shot clock violation, thanks largely to the raucous BYU crowd.
Saint Mary's called a timeout after Brandon Davies capped the 20-4 run with 11:44 to go in the first half. From there, the Gaels began to slowly creep back into the game as the Cougars' offense stalled during the second part of the first half.
Over the next six minutes, BYU scored only six points. The drought allowed Saint Mary's to cut the deficit to single digits after a 3-pointer by Stephen Holt brought the score to 26-17 with 5:34 remaining in the first. Holt finished the game with 22 points, scoring 10 in the first half.
BYU shot 54 percent overall and 42 percent from 3-point range while holding SMC to 36 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes. The Cougars led 34-27 at halftime.
In terms of rebounding, the Gaels' length proved troublesome for the Cougars. BYU gave up nine offensive rebounds and was outrebounded 21-14 overall in the first half. The Gaels finished the game with a 37 percent offensive rebounding rate, grabbing 14 offensive boards.
Saint Mary's started the second half on an 8-2 run, closing the gap to 36-35. After Haws made a pair of freebies, Holt tied the game at 38 with a 3-pointer, his third of the night. A turnover on BYU's next possession led to another triple for Holt. The basket gave the Gaels their first lead of the game at 41-38 with 15:21 to play.
BYU regained the lead on a midrange floater by Carlino, only to lose it again after Holt made his fifth and final 3-pointer of the night. Holt was 5 of 9 from downtown. A three from the top of the key by Dellavedova gave Saint Mary's a 46-42 lead with 12:19 to play, capping a 7-0 run.
Anson Winder's 3-pointer with 9:17 to go pulled the Cougars within three at 52-49. With 8:04 remaining, Dellavedova tried to beat Nate Austin off the dribble, but Austin beat him to the spot, drawing a charge and giving Dellavedova his fourth personal foul. Austin played a season-high 27 minutes, tallying six points, four rebounds, a block and an assist.
After drawing a foul away from the ball, Haws knocked down a pair of free throws to bring the Cougars within two at 53-51 with 7:53 to go. Haws was 7 of 8 from the charity stripe and had seven rebounds, an assist and a steal to go along with his 23 points.
Winder stole the ball after another Saint Mary's offensive rebound and found Brock Zylstra on the right wing for three. The basket regained the lead for the Cougars at 54-53 with 6:29 to go.
With BYU trailing 62-60 with 3:41 to play, Davies found Zylstra at the top of the key for another 3-pointer to take the lead. Zylstra only took two shots on the night, both of them 3-pointers that regained the lead for BYU. On the ensuing defensive possession BYU forced another shot clock violation, helped again by the roaring crowd.
A spinning right-handed floater by Davies gave BYU a 65-62 advantage with 2:45 left in the game. Davies fouled out of the game with 1:50 to play, sending Dellavedova to the line where he split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 65. Davies had 12 points and two assists for the game.
Haws made a turnaround jumper from the right corner with 41 seconds to play, putting the Cougars up 67-65. Dellavedova responded with a short jumper in the lane, tying the game with 34 seconds to go and giving BYU a chance at the last shot.
After Carlino dribbled the clock down to single digits, he found Haws who knocked down a mid-range jumper with two seconds remaining. Haws' shot left just enough time for Dellavedova to cross half court and make the buzzer-beater.
The Cougars host San Diego on Saturday at 7 p.m. MST.