SPOKANE, Wash. – The BYU men’s basketball team was downed by No. 1 Gonzaga, 92-69, on Saturday night at McCarthey Athletic Center.
"Congratulations to Gonzaga. They played well tonight and are obviously the best team in America," BYU head coach Mark Pope said. "Our guys are playing so hard and are putting their hearts and soul on the court. These guys are giving us everything so we will continue grinding away and get better everyday because that is what we have to do. It's all about how we respond to this and we will respond well and we will keep pushing ahead."
TJ Haws led the team with 17 points and Jake Toolson followed closely with 16. Haws added six assists and a steal while Toolson recorded four rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal.
The Cougars (14-6, 3-2 WCC) started the game with buckets by Haws and Alex Barcello in the first two possessions, as BYU went on to take an early 6-2 lead. A Bulldog (20-1, 6-0 WCC) 3-pointer gave the lead to Gonzaga for the first time but a layup by Dalton Nixon and an offensive foul gave the momentum back to the Cougars.
The Bulldogs took a 12-8 advantage near the 14-minute mark but a layup by Toolson and a free throw by Zac Seljaas brought the score within one.
With eight minutes to play in the first half, the Bulldogs held a 23-15 lead. Kolby Lee scored a layup to cut into the deficit, but Gonzaga continued to score on its offensive end of the court, taking a double-digit lead, 28-17, with 6:14 on the clock.
In the final two minutes before halftime, Seljaas buried a long trey and Haws added a layup to bring the game within seven, forcing a timeout by the Bulldogs. Out of the timeout, Gonzaga scored a layup and Haws hit a jumper as the Cougars went into the locker room down 38-31.
BYU shot 48.3 percent from the field in the first half compared to the Bulldogs’ 44.1 percent. Haws had seven points and Seljaas and Lee added six to lead the Cougar offense.
Gonzaga started the scoring in the second half, converting at the rim. Toolson answered with a bucket from beyond the arc but the Bulldogs hit one of their own on their end of the court to bring the score to 43-34. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Nixon hit a 3-pointer to bring the game back to single-digits, 54-45.
Haws managed to score eight-straight points for BYU, including a trey and a pair of layups. However, the Bulldogs went on to take an 18-point lead, 73-55, with six minutes to play.
In the final minutes of the game, Toolson scored seven points and Barcello knocked in a bucket from beyond the arc.
On the game, BYU shot 50.9 percent from the field, 30.0 percent from 3 and 50.0 percent from the charity stripe. Gonzaga recorded 56.1 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from beyond the arc and 76.0 percent from the free-throw line.
The Cougars continue conference action on the road at Pacific on Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. PST. The game will be streamed on Stadium with audio broadcasts available on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM), BYU Sports Network and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.