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Beau Levesque scored eight points in the first half on Thursday against BYU.
Beau Levesque scored eight points in the first half on Thursday against BYU.
MBK | Gaels Get Defensive In Win Over BYU
Release: Thursday 02/21/2013 
by SMC Athletics

MORAGA, Calif. -- When the Saint Mary's men's basketball team beat BYU earlier in the season, it came courtesy of The Shot.

In Thursday's rematch at McKeon Pavilion, the Gaels turned instead to The Defense.

Several key stops throughout the second half gave Saint Mary's an edge and the Gaels turned it into a 64-57 win in Moraga.

Matthew Dellavedova led Saint Mary's (23-5, 12-2 West Coast Conference) with 20 points. Beau Levesque added 17.

Brandon Davies led BYU (20-9, 9-5) with 25 points and nine rebounds.

With 3:05 to play, Levesque gave Saint Mary's a sliver of breathing room with a corner 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down. That put the Gaels up 57-53.

The two teams traded baskets on their next possessions, with Dellavedova making a runner and Davies a contested shot underneath the hoop.

After a Saint Mary's miss, BYU coach Dave Rose called time out to set up a play.

A foul call on Giusti put Matt Carlino at the line, and the Cougars guard missed both free throws. Dellavedova rebounded the miss, and got fouled.

Dellavedova made one of two, putting Saint Mary's up 60-57 with 41 seconds left.

Again the Gaels needed defense, and it was Dellavedova who provided it. Tyler Haws tried to drive, but ran into a wall of Aussie defense. The Gaels got the ball back and proceeded to ice the game from the line.

McKeon Pavilion really got rocking with just under 16 minutes left. First a jumper by Holt put the Gaels up 35-34. Then, a steal by Giusti got the crowd even louder, giving the Gaels another possession.

In fact, some of the loudest cheers of the second half were reserved for Giusti, who grabbed another steal a few minutes later and touched off another explosion from a capacity crowd.

Giusti's defense, along with others, helped set Saint Mary's up to make a run. Two free throws by Dellavedova capped a 13-2 streak for the Gaels, and left them up 41-36 with 14:20 to play.

The Cougars battled for the next few minutes, keeping the margin close. Saint Mary's continued to play well on defense, holding the score down while it tried to get an offensive rhythm going.

A 3-pointer by Dellavedova gave the Gaels their largest lead of the game to that point, knocking down a corner trey to put Saint Mary's up 52-46 with 6:33 left.

Giusti wasn't the only Gael bench player to bring the defense. With Saint Mary's up by one and just under four minutes left, it was Matt Hodgson's turn to ignite the crowd. He blocked Davies not once but twice, enforcing the paint and keeping Saint Mary's in the lead.

BYU took a 32-28 lead to halftime after an evenly matched half of basketball that saw six lead changes.

Davies kept the Cougars in the lead for much of the first half, using a variety of post moves to go 6 for 9 and finish with 12 points in the half.

The Gaels pulled back into a tie with 2:22 left in the half, when James Walker III stepped into a 3-pointer and knocked it down. That evened the score at 28.

Davies replied with a layup, and Nate Austin converted a layup of his own with 27 seconds left, providing the halftime margin.

Levesque and Dellavedova combined for 16 of the Gaels' 28 first-half points, each scoring eight. Levesque got his thanks to some bruising play down low, while Dellavedova made two 3-pointers to account for most of his points.

Saint Mary's returns to the floor on Saturday at 3 p.m. when it hosts Creighton in the marquee game of the ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series. The Bluejays enter the contest with a record of 22-6, and bring with them one of the top players in the country in forward Doug McDermott.

The Gaels wrap up the regular season next week, beginning with a trip to Pepperdine on Wednesday. They return home Saturday for Senior Day, and will play host to Santa Clara in a game set for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Tickets to the game are available by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com, or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.