PROVO, Utah – BYU came back from an 11-point second half deficit to tie the score late but could not overcome the No. 2 team in the nation, losing to Gonzaga 70-65 Thursday night at the Marriott Center.
The game came down to the wire, with the Bulldogs leaving the door open until BYU's last possession. Trailing 68-65 with six seconds to play, BYU inbounded the ball to senior guard Craig Cusick, who was fouled before he could attempt a game-tying 3-pointer. Cusick missed the front end of the one-and-one and the Bulldogs closed the door with a pair of free throws.
“I’m really proud of our guys; I thought we competed really hard," head coach Dave Rose said. "I thought our guys put us in a position where we could have won the game, but you have to give Gonzaga credit. They came in here and did what they had to do to win."
Tyler Haws and Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk led all players in scoring with 19 apiece. Haws was 8 of 18 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds. Senior Brandon Davies was in foul trouble for much of the game, but still managed a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Davies picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game. Freshman forward Bronson Kaufusi came in for Davies and scored the first basket for BYU on a putback off a Cusick miss with 16:52 to go in the first half.
Senior Brock Zylstra's 3-pointer with 13:10 to play in the opening period pulled the Cougars within three at 12-9. Gonzaga guard Gary Bell made his second triple of the game a minute later to push the Bulldogs' lead back to six. A high-low pass from Olynyk to Sam Dower for a layup put the score at 17-10 with 11:47 until the half.
After a BYU timeout, Haws made two consecutive 18-foot jumpers to pull the Cougars within five at 19-14. With 9:35 to go in the half, Bell pushed Gonzaga's lead back to eight with his third 3-pointer of the period.
After Przemek Karnowski missed a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs, Zylstra found Davies under the basket for a reverse dunk that put the score at 23-18 in favor of the visitors.
With 6:57 to play in the half, Davies found Matt Carlino for a 3-pointer on the left wing. BYU retained possession after the basket because of a Gonzaga foul away from the ball. After a missed shot and offensive rebound for the Cougars, Haws got the ball on the right elbow and spun baseline to nail a midrange jumper that brought BYU within a single bucket at 25-23.
Carlino's stepback jumper over Olynyk's outstretched arm got the home team within three with 3:18 to play until the half. On the next possession, Carlino put back his own missed shot to close the gap to one and bring the crowd to its feet.
BYU forward Nate Austin fouled Gonzaga's Drew Barham on a 3-point attempt with 1:28 to go in the half. Barham made all three shots to give the Bulldogs a 33-29 advantage. A pair of free throws from each team in the final minute of the first half made the score 35-31 heading into the break.
BYU grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first half and scored 11 second-chance points. The Cougars had seven more possessions than the Bulldogs in the period, but Gonzaga made 12 of 18 free throws compared to BYU's 5 of 11 from the charity stripe. Gonzaga did not make a field goal in the last 7:30 of the first half.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Bell, his fourth of the night. On the next BYU possession, Cusick responded with a 3-pointer of his own from the left corner.
A pair of baskets by Olynyk gave the Bulldogs an eight-point cushion with 16:28 left in the game. Davies picked up his fourth foul of the game with 13:33 remaining, prompting Rose to send in Kaufusi to save Davies from an early exit.
Davies checked back in with 10:11 to play and BYU trailing 54-43. On the ensuing inbounds play, Haws snuck behind the defense for a layup plus the foul. Haws finished the old-fashioned three-point play to make the score 54-46 in favor of the Bulldogs.
With BYU down by seven with seven minutes to play, Davies kicked the ball out to Zylstra who made the wide open 3-pointer. Zylstra hit another triple on the following Cougar possession, making the score 58-55 with 6:06 to play.
Trailing by five with 5:05 to play, Cusick found himself trapped on the right wing with the shot clock dwindling. A quick dribble to the right bought him an inch of free space to launch a 3-pointer that found the bottom of the net. It was BYU's third-consecutive basket from behind the arc and it pulled the Cougars within a bucket at 60-58.
Davies made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60 with 4:18 to go. It was the first and only tie of the game.
Olynyk's 10-foot jumper gave the Bulldogs a 65-62 lead with just under a minute remaining. With BYU trailing by five and less than 10 seconds to go, Cusick drew a foul on a 3-point attempt. He made all three foul shots, cutting Gonzaga's lead to 67-65 with seven seconds remaining. Gonzaga finished the game from the foul line, making three of four in the final seconds.
The Cougars head to Los Angeles to play Loyola Marymount on Saturday at 8 p.m. PST. The game will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.
BYU will host No. 2/2 Gonzaga on Thursday at 9 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center in a West Coast Conference matchup. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.
BYU Cougars (20-9, 9-5 WCC)
- Head Coach: Dave Rose
- Alma Mater: Houston, 1983
- Division I Career Record: 205-63 (8th)
- Record at BYU: Same
Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC)
- Head Coach: Mark Few
- Alma Mater: Oregon, 1987
- Division I Career Record: 369-92 (14th)
- Record at Gonzaga: Same
- TV: ESPN2
- TV Talent: Dave Flemming (play-by-play), Mark Adams (analyst)
- Live Video: WatchESPN.com
- Radio: KSL 102.7 FM / 1160 AM, BYU Radio - Sirius XM 143
- Radio Talent: Greg Wrubell (play-by-play), Mark Durrant (analyst)
- Live Audio: KSL.com
- Live Stats: BYUcougars.com
- Series Record: BYU leads 4-2
- Last Meeting: Gonzaga won 83-63, 1/24/13
- H/A/N: 1-0/0-2/1-2
|Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC)|
|5||Gary Bell Jr.||6-1||G||8.9||2.3|
|BYU Cougars (20-9, 9-5 WCC)|
Player and team notes
Ranked No. 2 in the AP and Coaches Polls, Gonzaga enters Thursday’s game as the highest ranked opponent BYU has played in the Marriott Center and tied for the highest ranked team the Cougars have played in Provo. BYU is 4-8 all-time against Top 5 teams in Provo, including 1-2 in the Marriott Center.
BYU won its 20th game with a 70-68 victory against Utah State, giving the Cougars eight-straight 20-win seasons, the longest such streak in program history. All eight seasons have come under Dave Rose, a program record for 20-win seasons by one coach. Stan Watts had seven 20-win seasons.
Dave Rose earned his 200th career victory with a 74-57 win over San Diego on Jan. 19, 2013. Stan Watts is the only other coach in BYU history with 200-plus wins. Watts won his 200th game during his 12th season at the helm on Feb. 2, 1961, at New Mexico. It was his 329th career game (Watts’ career record was 371-254 in 23 seasons). Rose is in his eighth season and earned win number 200 in his 259th game.
Tyler Haws reached 1,000 career points when he hit a jumper at the 15:30 mark in the second half at Saint Mary’s. He joins Danny Ainge as the only BYU players to reach 1,000 career points as sophomores. Haws has 1,003 points and is the 45th Cougar to reach the milestone.
Brandon Davies has stepped up his play of late, averaging 18.1 points, 8.4 boards and 1.4 steals and shooting .547 over the last seven games. He’s had four 20-plus point games and four double-doubles during that time.
BYU has completed four comebacks after trailing at the half this season. The Cougars trailed Utah and San Francisco by nine at the half and won 61-58 and 80-76. BYU trailed Pepperdine by five at the half at home and came back to win 76-51. The Cougars trailed at Pepperdine 31-20 but bounced back in the second half to win 63-61.
BYU has been a better shooting team in league games than nonconference games. The Cougars are shooting better from the field (.481 in WCC play to .445 in nonconference games) and from three (.368 to .306).
The Cougars are on pace to break team records in steals in a season and steals per game for a season. BYU has 258 steals in 29 games, good for 8.9 per game. The current records of 307 steals and 8.5 steals per game were set during the 2009-10 season.
Tyler Haws has shot 100 percent from the line while attempting at least 10 free throws in three games this season, tied with Russell Larson (1993-94) and Ken Roberts (1994-95) for most perfect days from the line (minimum of 10 attempts). Haws has four such games in his career, tied for the most in BYU history with Jimmer Fredette. Danny Ainge, Lee Cummard, Larson and Roberts are tied for second on the career list with three.