Over the past month, the third-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs have flirted with disaster on a few different occasions before ultimately pulling through in the end and remaining perfect in conference play. On Saturday night, their luck ran out.
The BYU Cougars picked up their biggest win of the season, upsetting the Zags 73-70 on the road. The Cougars’ victory snaps the longest home-court winning streak in the country, which reached 41 games, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Last week, Gonzaga was down by nine points to Saint Mary’s with a little under seven minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs then went on a massive offensive run, winning by 10 points. The scoring dried up for the Gaels, and they wilted in crunch time.
The Cougars had no such collapse.
Gonzaga made it interesting late, getting to within three points, 69-66, with 50 seconds to play, but BYU did a great job of eating time off the clock on its next possession. Kyle Collinsworth grabbed his own missed shot and scored inside with 17 seconds left.
Kyle Dranginis made it a three-point game again, knocking down two free throws at the other end of the court. Then, Tyler Haws missed two from the line for BYU, which came as a shock since he’s an 88.6 percent free-throw shooter this year:
After grabbing the defensive rebound, Eric McClellan could’ve potentially tied the game with a three-pointer, but Frank Bartley IV fouled him near half court to wipe out the chance for a three. After making the first, McClellan needed to miss the second. Instead, his shot found the bottom of the net, all but dooming the Bulldogs to defeat.
Zach Bloxham found Haws’ and McClellan’s opposite fortunes at the foul line rather ironic:
Although he fouled out with a few seconds remaining in the second half, Collinsworth spearheaded the upset, leading all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He added eight rebounds to his all-around impressive performance.
On the other side, Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos really struggled, shooting a combined 5-of-23 and scoring 12 points. As Rick Bozich of WDRB in Louisville noted, Wiltjer played little down the stretch in the critical moments:
College Basketball Talk’s Rob Dauster joked that his half-court heave at the buzzer was his best three-point attempt all night:
The defeat will almost certainly cost Gonzaga a chance to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Even if the Bulldogs win out, they’re unlikely to get the kind of win that would vault them back into that position again.
For BYU, the importance of this win can’t be understated. In his most recent “Bubble Watch,” ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan wrote that the Cougars still needed to impress the selection committee to book a place in the NCAA tournament.
Beating the No. 3 team in the country away from home is a major statement. CBS Sports Network’s Jon Rothstein doesn’t think BYU is a lock for the Big Dance but is building up its resume:
The Cougars might still have some work left, but an at-large bid is undoubtedly well within reach after Saturday.