BYU played spoiler as it upset #1 Gonzaga 79-71 in the regular season finale.
Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo
SPOKANE, WA – The BYU Cougars may have been the only ones that believed in themselves Saturday night. Traveling to Spokane to face #1 Gonzaga, the Cougars played spoiler as they upset the Zags 79-71 after scoring ten unanswered points in the final 1:52 of the contest.
Gonzaga jumped out to a quick lead after outscoring BYU 7-0 in the first three minutes of the game. Building on the momentum, Gonzaga extended the lead to 20-5 with 13:24 remaining in the half.
That lit a fire for the Cougars as they found their groove and began to chip away.
A trio of threes from TJ Haws helped BYU cut Gonzaga’s lead to four. BYU came within one after a put back by Braiden Shaw with 3:56 remaining. Gonzaga found some breathing room after a bucket from Jordan Mathews which he followed with a pair of free throws. The Bulldogs took a 41-35 lead into half time.
The Cougars and Bulldogs battled for an advantage to start the second half, but met each other score-for-score until the first media timeout of the half. Gonzaga left the timeout by scoring six unanswered points to go up 58-46. BYU answered with a 7-0 run to cut the Gonzaga lead to five.
After a pair of Gonzaga free throws, Nick Emery made back-to-back threes to cut the lead to one.
Emery only made two field goals on the night – finishing with nine points – but he made them count.
BYU took their first lead of the second half – the first time Gonzaga trailed in the second half at home this season – with 8:38 remaining in the half behind a jumper from Eric Mika.
Next possession, Gonzaga took back the lead with a put back dunk from Zach Collins. TJ Haws answered with a bucket of his own to put BYU back up by one with 7:58 left.
A pair of made free throws from Elijah Bryant tied the score at 69. Nigel Williams-Goss sank a pair of his own to give the Zags the lead with 2:13 remaining. Bryant tied the score again with 1:52 remaining.
BYU never looked back.
Eric Mika made a basket to give BYU the lead with 1:05 left which he followed up with a steal on the defensive end. Corbin Kaufusi sealed the game after a put back lay up with :14 seconds left to put the Cougars up by four.
Eric Mika led the Cougars with 29 points and 11 boards while TJ Haws scored 17 and Elijah Bryant chipped in 14.
The win marked the third consecutive season BYU upset Gonzaga in the Kennel and fourth win over the Bulldogs in as many seasons – the rest of the WCC has the same number of wins over the Zags during the same stretch.
BYU will turn it’s sights toward the WCC tournament which begins Friday. The Cougars will play Loyola Marymount after clinching the three seed earlier Saturday when Santa Clara fell to Saint Mary’s. BYU defeated LMU in the two previous meetings between the two schools. Those games will be broadcast on BYUtv as well as the Cougar IMG Sports Network (102.7 FM, 1160 AM, 143 SiriusXM) with the Voice of the Cougars, Greg Wrubell on the call.
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