BYU Shows Their Potential, But No. 1 Gonzaga Takes Over In WCC Final

Mar 9, 2021, 9:38 PM
BYU - Gonzaga - WCC Tournament...
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 09: Drew Timme #2 and Joel Ayayi #11 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs try to steal the ball from Matt Haarms #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars during the championship game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 9, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU/Gonzaga is becoming more of a rivalry in the WCC with each passing season.

BYU basketball gave as good of an effort as you’ll find from a team that faced No. 1 Gonzaga this season. But like the previous 25 games, the Zags have played this year, it ended up like many of the others. A double-digit victory and another WCC Tournament Championship added to the trophy case in Spokane.

BYU lost to Gonzaga 88-78 in the 2021 WCC Tournament title game. It was a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate, but the Zags turned it on late and took over.

The loss drops BYU to 20-6 overall. Gonzaga improves to 26-0. Both teams will next be in action in the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.

Gonzaga took over late in the 2nd Half

Gonzaga 88, BYU 78 (FINAL): Somehow, Gonzaga extends its streak of victories by double-digit figures. That streak is now up to 23 games. Jalen Suggs dominated the final stretch burying a pair of three-pointers to close the door on BYU’s upset bid.

After a blistering hot first half, BYU ended up with only 25 points in the second half. Trevin Knell led BYU in scoring on the night with 20 points. Alex Barcello scored 15 and Matt Haarms chipped in 13.

Gonzaga 75, BYU 73 (3:36): The first media stoppage with Gonzaga holding a lead, and it just happens to be the final media timeout. BYU continues to find answers when Gonzaga appears to get a little bit of separation.

BYU 68, Gonzaga 66 (7:31): Gonzaga is on a 7-0 run before the media break. A huge swing of events took place before the stoppage with Richard Harward misses a point-blank shot, then on the other end Alex Barcello is called for a block and Kispert gets an and-one.

BYU 61, Gonzaga 57 (11:18): BYU’s offense is still stuck in the mud as of right now in the second half. Trevin Knell had a nice take to the rim. But on the defensive end, the Cougars navigated the early onslaught from Gonzaga and the pace of the game is starting to slow down.

BYU needs to get comfortable in their offensive sets. They look disjointed right now.

BYU 55, Gonzaga 52 (15:49): WCC Player of the Year Corey Kispert appeared to take BYU’s first-half success personally. The legendary Zag hit back-to-back-to-back three’s and Gonzaga opened the second half on an 11-2 run. Changing the entire outlook of the game.

Halftime Observations from BYU/Gonzaga


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BYU put together perfect 1st Half

BYU 53, Gonzaga 41 (HALF): Hands down the greatest half of basketball from a BYU team coached by Mark Pope. To shoot nearly 70 percent from the field and lead the No. 1 team in the nation by a dozen is impressive. In the last 10 years, it’s the fifth biggest deficit the Zags have faced at halftime.

BYU 45, Gonzaga 37 (3:54): Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs was called for his second foul forcing him to go to the bench. Joel Ayayi has been the guy carrying Gonzaga on the offensive end.

BYU 37, Gonzaga 26 (7:11): This is one heck of a start from BYU. The Cougars are shooting 75% from the field right now. Is this BYU’s Villanova 1985 moment? A lot of basketball left to play, but BYU is playing as close to perfect as they possibly could in the first 13 minutes.

BYU 26, Gonzaga 19 (10:45): What an offensive display from both teams, but especially for BYU. Think of this performance from BYU as Kevin McAllister coming out of his Chicago home in Home Alone and saying, “I’m not afraid anymore!”

BYU 7, Gonzaga 5 (15:49): BYU goes into the first media timeout. A lot better situation than being down 23-2 or 15-2. Gideon George hit a nice corner three. One area for concern is that BYU allowed a few second-chance opportunities to the Zags, but Gonzaga couldn’t convert.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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