Austin Rustand | Posted: 26 Jan 2023 | Updated: 16 Feb 2023

Falatea and Gustin lead Cougars over Gaels

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Nani Falatea dribbles past a defender in a game against Saint Mary's.
Nani Falatea prepares to inbound the ball during a 74-59 win over Saint Mary's. Rose Bubakar shoots a shot during a 74-59 win over Saint Mary's. Lauren Gustin finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds in a 74-59 win over Saint Mary's. Nani Falatea dribbles past a defender during a 74-59 win over Saint Mary's. Amanda Barcello hits a three pointer during a 74-59 win over Saint Mary's.

MORAGA, Calif. — Nani Falatea and Lauren Gustin combined for 45 points in the Cougars' 74-59 win over Saint Mary’s Thursday night.

Falatea bested her previous career-high of 24 points, set in the last meeting against the Gaels, with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including going 4-for-5 from downtown on the night. The sophomore guard added seven assists, four steals, two rebounds and a 3-for-4 outing at the charity stripe in the win. Her four steals tied a career high. 

Gustin continued her historic season with her 20th double-double in 21 games. The nation’s top rebounder finished with 20 points on an 8-for-17 clip while grabbing 20 boards for the seventh time this season. It was a third 20-20 game this year. Gustin also contributed four assists, a block and a steal to the cause in the eighth-straight win over the Gaels.

As a team, the Cougars (12-9, 7-3) forced 18 Saint Mary’s turnovers which turned into 10 points, scored 13 points in transition while shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 47.4 percent from three-point land and outrebounded the Gaels 38-30, 12-6 on the offensive glass.

Kaylee Smiler and Arielle Mackey-Williams each notched career highs in the win over the Gaels. Smiler blocked four shots to best her previous high of two while going 2-for-4 from the field for 9 points and a steal. Mackey-Williams recorded three steals on the night to go along with seven points, three rebounds and three assists.

Box Score

First Quarter
After the Gaels opened the scoring, BYU went on a 9-2 run midway through the opening quarter. Arielle Mackey-Williams and Falatea scored back-to-back buckets before Mackey-Williams found Gustin for a post-touch score to take a five-point lead.

On the next Cougar possession, Mackey-Williams recorded her second assist of the night, finding Smiler for three on the left wing.

The Gaels would knot the game at 12 with 2:33 to play, before a 7-0 BYU run extended the lead to 19-12 at the quarter break.

Second Quarter
BYU opened quarter number two with Emma Calvert finding Gustin in a high-low action to take a 21-12 lead with 8:29 to play in the half. The Cougars and Gaels traded baskets before Smiler pushed the lead to 10 with 3:06 left, 28-18.

In the last minutes of the half, Falatea and Gustin combined for six-straight points to give BYU a 14-point advantage, its largest lead of the game, 33-19.

The Cougars led 35-21 at the break after shooting 42.4 percent and holding Saint Mary’s to a 36 percent clip. Led by Gustin’s nine rebounds, BYU won the first-half rebounding battle 21-15, with seven boards coming on the offensive glass.

Third Quarter
The Gaels scored the first six points of the third to trim the Cougar lead to eight just two minutes in before a BYU timeout.

After the timeout, a Saint Mary’s three cut it to five before Falatea found Gustin on the pick-and-roll to retake a 12-point lead, 44-32.

On the next Cougar possession, Gustin returned the favor with a screen that allowed Falatea to knock down a triple and stretch the lead back to double figures. With 5:30 to play in the third, Falatea picked off a Saint Mary’s pass and again connected with Gustin for another fast-break bucket.

BYU finished the third on an 11-3 run with six points from Falatea, and scores from Gustin, Smiler and Calvert to take a 57-39 lead into the final 10 minutes.

Fourth Quarter
The Cougars expanded the lead to a game-high 19 points with 7:18 to play before a 7-0 Saint Mary’s run brought the Gaels within 12 with 4:41 left.

BYU’s defense allowed only one made field goal for Saint Mary’s in the final 4:41 with Amanda Barcello knocking down a triple with 2:15 to seal a 74-59 win. 

The Cougars, who have won eight of their last nine games, look to make it 9-of-10 as they take on the Pacific Tigers Saturday in Stockton. The game will tip at 2 p.m. PST and will be streamed on WCC Network.

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