South Padre Island, Texas • Jimmer Fredette wants to have the ball late in games for No. 23 BYU, and for the second consecutive game it paid off.
Fredette scored 24 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, to help the Cougars beat Saint Mary's 74-73 on Saturday night for the South Padre Island Invitational championship.
"I like having the ball in my hands at the end of the game," said Fredette, the tournament MVP. "The screen went right and I crossed over and had a little room and took the shot."
Cougars coach Dave Rose said Fredette is one of the players he wants to have the ball with the game on the line and he had every bit of trust in his senior guard.
"[Jimmer] plays with a lot of confidence when he is out on the floor," he said. "We practice those last-second plays a lot, and last night he passed it and found Noah [Hartsock] and he made it, and tonight he was open off the screen and made the shot."
On Friday night, Fredette found Hartsock, who hit a jumper as time expired for a 77-75 double-overtime victory over South Florida to send the Cougars into the championship game.
"The challenge is being able to find the parts of your team that works well when you win close games and guys come through for you," Rose said.
Fredette scored seven of BYU's last nine points and Charles Adouo iced the game with the others, hitting two free throws after grabbing Matthew Dellavedo's failed runner in the paint with one second left for a 74-70 lead. Mickey McConnell hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
"I was proud of the team, they played well and competed hard," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. "They know they played a good team and we played pretty well. If the shot doesn't go in, it's a different feeling."
Jackson Emery added 15 points for BYU (6-0) and Kyle Collinsworth had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Rob Jones led the Gaels (6-1) with 18 points, while Mitchell Young and McConnell had 12 each and Dellavedo added 11.
"It was a great basketball game and two teams that are evenly matched," Bennett said. "We haven't played them in a couple of years and we have a lot of respect for their program and I think they probably respect ours. It was a great college basketball game."
The Gaels took a 70-69 lead with 25 seconds remaining when Dellavedo made two free throws.
Saint Mary's took its largest lead of the game at 66-63 when Young came up with consecutive layups with 4:08 remaining.
Fredette answered for the Cougars slicing through the defense on consecutive possessions to give BYU the lead back, 67-66.
The Gaels stayed within striking distance in the first half with 21 points from its bench and shooting 13 of 16 from the free throw line. Clint Steindi made 2 of 3 free throws to tie the game at 38 with 1:07 remaining in the half.
The tie was short-lived as Emery hit his third 3-pointer on the ensuing possession then followed it up with another score as he sliced his way through the defense for a layup with 25 seconds remaining.
Saint Mary's pushed the ball up the court and found Dellavedo who banked in a 15-footer bringing the Gaels within 43-40 at halftime.
BYU opened the game on a 13-4 run with Emery hitting two 3-pointers.