LAS VEGAS – The BYU men’s basketball team fell to No. 7/7 Gonzaga 91-75 despite a career-high 28 points from Kyle Collinsworth in the West Coast Conference Finals Tuesday night in the Orleans Arena.
"It was quite a game," BYU basketball coach Dave Rose said. "Guys on both sides battled. Our guys competed really hard and it was a real physical game. In the second half, [Przemek] Karnowski was really a factor to get them off to a nice little jump. Our guys responded and got the thing back to a single possession game. Then it was almost like we kind of wore down a little bit, but for all 40 minutes these guys fought really hard and competed well."
Collinsworth added eight rebounds and five assists while Tyler Haws finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Both players were named the WCC All-Tournament Team after leading the Cougars to the WCC title game.
Both teams got off to a slow start with Collinsworth scoring the first seven BYU points to give the Cougars a 7-6 lead at the 14:24 mark. A quick 12-2 run by Gonzaga put the Bulldogs up 21-12, but was answered by Halford’s 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 21-15 with 11:10 left in the half.
An 8-2 run that included Worthington’s tip-in and Collinsworth’s three-point play brought the Cougars back within three at 35-32 with 6:00 left on the clock. The Bulldogs extended their lead to nine at 46-37 until Halford’s triple and Collinsworth’s free throws brought BYU back within four with under three minutes to go in the half.
BYU fell into a 2:35 scoring drought entering halftime down 48-42. Collinsworth led all players with 17 points and pulled down six rebounds. Halford added nine points with Haws contributing seven points despite being in foul trouble.
The Cougars and Bulldogs traded baskets to start the second half until Haws and Collinsworth’s buckets brought BYU within two points at 54-52 at the 16:28 mark. With 8:55 remaining, Josh Sharp, Collinsworth and Haws put together a 6-0 run to cut BYU’s deficit to six at 71-65 after Gonzaga had extended its lead to 12.
The Bulldogs continued to maintain their double-digit lead after responding to each BYU basket with a basket of their own to take the conference championship 91-75.
BYU outrebounded Gonzaga 42-37, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, to score 12 second chance points.
The Cougars will await NCAA Selection Sunday on March 15 in hopes of getting an at-large bid to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.