Cold Shooting From Outside Dooms BYU In Loss To No. 1 Gonzaga
SPOKANE, Wash. – Only one time in BYU basketball history has the Cougars taken down a No. 1 ranked team. That came against Gonzaga three years ago in The Kennel. But on Saturday night, history did not repeat itself as BYU was no match in the second half for the nation’s best team.
Gonzaga cruised to a 92-69 win dropping BYU to 14-6 overall through their first 20 games of the season and 3-2 in West Coast Conference play.
There was some hope in the pregame that star Yoeli Childs would play for the first time since suffering an injury to his right index finger back on January 7th as he was upgraded to a game-time decision. Despite going through warmups, Childs never ended up playing on Saturday night.
How much would Childs, who isn’t at 100 percent yet, have changed the game? Who knows? But one thing is for sure is that the rest of BYU’s roster tried hard, it just wasn’t enough against a deeper and more talented Zags squad.
“Congratulations to Gonzaga. They played well tonight and are obviously the best team in America,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “Our guys are playing so hard and are putting their hearts and soul on the court. These guys are giving us everything so we will continue grinding away and get better every day because that is what we have to do. It’s all about how we respond to this and we will respond well and we will keep pushing ahead.”
To pull off an upset against one of the best teams in the country, finding success from three is a must. BYU entered the game as one of the 10 best three-point shooting teams in America, but they just couldn’t find a groove from deep. BYU knocked down 30 percent of their three-point attempts going 6-20. The Zags, on the other hand, shot 42 percent.
At the half, BYU found themselves down by seven but through the first eight minutes of the second half, Gonzaga built their lead to double digits and never looked back after that. Gonzaga senior Killian Tillie who had been battling knee pain scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Five Zags players scored in double-figures in their third consecutive victory over BYU in Spokane.
BYU seniors TJ Haws and Jake Toolson who needed to have big games in order for the Cougars to hang with the Bulldogs combined for 33 of BYU’s 69 points. No one else on BYU’s roster scored in double-figures. In the previous two games, BYU had six players score in double figures in a pair of wins.
Since joining the West Coast Conference in 2011, no regular-season league champion has lost more than three games to win the title. BYU is now at two conference losses to Gonzaga’s zero. The Zags are well on their way to another league title as they secured their 33rd consecutive regular-season win in WCC play.
Stats of the Game
-16: Gonzaga outrebounded BYU 37-21. Without Childs, BYU was no match in the frontcourt for Tillian and Filip Petrusev before he went down with an ankle injury in the second half.
88.2%: Gonzaga led for 88 percent of the game. BYU’s one and only lead came early in the first half when they were up 8-7.
15: BYU had 15 less free throw attempts in the game compared to the Zags. Gonzaga put up 25 free throw attempts to BYU’s 10. The Cougars only made 50 percent of their 10 attempts.
Huge road trip coming up
Next up for BYU is a huge road trip against some of the WCC’s top teams as the Cougars take on the Pacific Tigers Thursday, January 23rd and then travel to the Hilltop to face San Francisco on Saturday, January 25th.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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