Tremont Waters came off the bench to lead LSU with 18 points in the win over Saint Mary's
Gus Stark

Men's Basketball Takes Down Saint Mary's, 78-74

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The LSU Tigers faced adversity with a lead late in the game, but showed it could make the plays necessary to secure the victory, 78-74, over Saint Mary’s College of California in the Neon Hoops basketball event benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.

LSU is now 8-4 on the season and will be off until Friday night at 7 p.m. when undefeated and nationally-ranked Furman comes to Baton Rouge. With the loss, Saint Mary’s had its four-game winning streak stopped and is now 7-5 on the season.

The Tigers had four players in double figures as Coach Will Wade went with a different starting lineup that had Marlon Taylor joining Ja'vonte Smart and Skylar Mays at the three guard positions and Kavell Bigby-Williams joining Naz Reid as LSU went big at the forward spot. That allowed LSU to rotate Tremont Waters, Daryl Edwards, Darius Days and Emmitt Williams in throughout the contest when needed.

Waters still played 30 minutes and had one of his best outings of the 11-game season to date with 18 points, hitting 7-of-12 shots with three treys to go with three assists, two steals and just two turnovers.

Emmitt Williams played 21 minutes off the bench hit 4-of-6 field goals and an impressive 7-of-7 from the foul line, many in late clutch situations to get 15 points and a team-high six rebounds. Skylar Mays got back in double figures with 14 points and Naz Reid had 14 points for his third consecutive double figure scoring game.

The Gaels were led by Jordan Ford with 21 points and Jordan Hunter with 15 points, 7-8 shooting.

Again at times the game was a free throw contest as both teams were called for 22 fouls and both teams shot 25 free throws. Both teams made 25 field goals (LSU on 56 attempts, SMC on 52 attempts) and six treys (both off of 17 attempts).

In the end, the Tigers had an outstanding night at the free throw line making 22-of 25 attempts (13-of-15 in the second half) while Saint Mary’s made 16-of-23 in the second half and 18 for the game.

For the contest, LSU shot 44.6 percent, while Saint Mary’s was at 48.1 percent.

The four ties in the game all came in the first seven minutes before LSU was able to take the lead for good on a Williams layup at 15-14 with 10:09 to go in the first half. That was the start of a 9-0 run in which Waters scoring a layup, Edwards hit a three and Williams canned two free throws to push the Tigers margin to 22-14 with 8:54 to go in the opening 20 minutes.

But the Tigers would finish the first half with just one field goal in their final 10 attempts which allowed Saint Mary’s to one point twice at 27-26 with 2:53 left and then 29-28 at the halftime break.

LSU would come out looking good at the start of the second half. After the teams traded buckets in the first minute to make the LSU lead, 31-30, the Tigers scored 16-of-the-next-18 points including 12 straight to go up 47-32 with 14:41 in the game.

The Tigers did the scoring in many varied ways getting threes by Taylor and Mays, two free throws by Reid, a dunk by Taylor and a layup by Mays to make it 43-30. Ford would score for SMC to make it 43-32 and after a Saint Mary’s foul and a subsequent media timeout, the Tigers came with a designed alley oop play that led to a Taylor Dunk off a Waters pass.

Waters got a steal on the ensuing possession and passed to Williams for a layup and the 15-point advantage.

The Tigers would have that lead twice more the last at 9:54 to play, 55-40, and then it became just a case of hanging on for the Tigers. Saint Mary’s ran off 10 straight points on seven free throws and a Malik Fitts three-pointer to cut the game to 55-50 with 8:11 to play.

In this game of runs, the Tigers would score seven straight of their own to push the margin back to 12 at 62-50 with 6:47 to play, but the Gaels kept coming as LSU fans were hoping the striking of the clock at midnight central time wasn’t a sign of problems to come.

LSU would lead by double figures for the last time at 70-60 with 3:24 to play on an old-fashioned three-point play by Williams. The Gaels would fight the game back down to four, 70-60, with 1:42 left after a Ford layup. SMC called timeout and after both teams missed shots, Williams was fouled with 57 seconds left and made both shots for a 72-66 advantage.

One thought the game might be over when Waters made a steal and score to push the game to 74-66 with 43 seconds left, but LSU fouled on the next possession resulting in a made free throw, an offensive rebound for Saint Mary’s and another foul that led to two Tanner Krebs free throws that made the LSU lead five, 74-69 with 27 seconds to play.

LSU turned the ball over on its next possession and Ford dropped in a three-pointer to cut the game to 74-72 with 19 seconds left. SMC was forced to foul. Waters made 1-of-2 to make it a three-point, one possession game. Fitts missed a trey and Bigby-Williams got the rebound and made one free throw to make it 76-72 with six seconds to play.

Ford drove down for Saint Mary’s to score a layup with 1.7 seconds left to make it 76-74. The Gaels fouled Mays with 1.1 seconds to play and his two free throws gave the final margin.

LSU is now 2-2 this year in neutral court games and will put its 13-game winning streak at the Maravich Center on the line Friday against Furman. Tickets for that game are available at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUtix.net.