BYU vs. Gonzaga women's basketball 14

Brigham Young University guard Kaylee Smiler (11) lines up a three-pointer during a basketball game between the BYU Cougars and the Gonzaga Bulldogs held Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at the Marriott Center in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

MORAGA, Calif. — Kaylee Smiler scored a career-high 19 points and Brenna Chase Drollinger added 18 as the BYU women’s basketball team defeated Saint Mary’s 65-55 Saturday afternoon at the University Credit Union Pavilion.

"Kaylee had a great game for us today, what a way to step up when we needed her to. I’m very happy for her and all her hard work," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "I thought we played great team defense today and Brenna and Maria were solid for us today both offensively and defensively. I’m really happy for our team."

Smiler shot seven of nine from the floor, including a perfect four of four from 3-point range, while also adding six rebounds and two steals. Drollinger contributed four rebounds and four assists to go along with her 18 points while Maria Albiero added 14 points, two assists and two steals. Sara Hamson recorded seven blocks and five rebounds.

The Cougars (10-7, 5-2 WCC), playing without junior guard Paisley Johnson due to an ankle injury, shot 37.9 percent from 3-point range and used 24 bench points to get past the Gaels (9-10, 4-4 WCC).

With the win at Saint Mary's, BYU is 4-0 on the road in league play.

Albiero scored BYU’s first points of the game with a mid-range jumper to bring the score to 3-2 for Saint Mary’s two minutes into the contest. The Gaels then responded with an 8-0 run to go up 11-2. Back-to-back triples by Smiler and Drollinger followed by a layup by Smiler brought the Cougars within two, 13-11. Teams traded baskets to end the first quarter, with Drollinger hitting a pair of deep 3-pointers from the right wing to bring the score to 20-17 for Saint Mary’s.

BYU came out strong to open the second quarter, with a Smiler trey followed by layups by Smiler and Drollinger putting the Cougars up 24-23. Two more triples by Albiero put BYU up three, 30-27, with two minutes left in the half. A basket in the paint by Moody brought the score to 32-30 for the Cougars after the first 20 minutes.

The Gaels opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers, but a driving layup by Otuafi and an Albiero trey gave BYU a 37-36 advantage. A 7-3 run fueled by a Smiler layup and triple put the Cougars up four, 45-41, with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. A turnaround jumper by Salmon and another 3-pointer by Smiler brought the score to 50-47 for BYU at the end of the third.

A pair of free throws and a driving layup by Drollinger gave the Cougars a 54-49 advantage two minutes into the fourth quarter. Drollinger then found Hamson for a layup and Albiero hit a triple to extend BYU’s lead to seven, 59-52, with 3:29 remaining. Saint Mary’s made a 3-pointer to cut the Cougars’ lead to four, 59-55, with 2:06 left in the game.

BYU’s defense, however, came up big in the last couple minutes and did not allow the Gaels to score another basket the remainder of the contest. The Cougars knocked down six free throws during the final minute to seal the 65-55 win.

BYU returns to the Marriott Center to host San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 23, at 11 a.m. MST.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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