ALL-TIME SERIES RESULTS: 21-5 (Gonzaga leads)
TALE OF TWO HALVES
BYU opened the game scorching hot to the tune of 67% from the field and 69% from beyond the arc. The Cougars’ attack was led by Trevin Knell, Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette. In the first half, Knell poured in four of his five threes, Matt Haarms was perfect from the field, and Brandon Averette went four of five on field goal attempts to build a 12-point cushion for the Cougars at the half.
BYU only turned the ball over three times in the first half, while forcing six takeaways form Gonzaga. While this seemed to indicate that the Cougars had flipped the script following a season-high 21 turnovers against Pepperdine on Monday, the trend was not to last.
The Zags tightened their defense and forced five BYU turnovers in the second half, while holding the Cougars to a dismal 27% from the field and 13% from beyond the arc. Mark Few’s team roared to life offensively and shot 55% from the field, including six threes to close the gap and seize control of the game in the final minutes.
Conference Title Game Kryptonite
With the loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, BYU’s 20-year drought without a conference title game win continues. The Cougars have now lost in their last seven straight conference tournament title game appearances. Gonzaga has now been on the winning end of BYU’s last four tournament title games. The Cougars last won a conference tournament in the 2001 Mountain West Championships.
Knell does well from deep
Sophomore guard Trevin Knell recorded a career-high 20 points and led the team in scoring during the Cougars’ loss to the Zags on Tuesday night. Knell’s five made three-pointers also give him a career-high in shots made from beyond the arc.
Gideon George’s second half spark
Despite a disappointing and inconsistent second half for the Cougars, junior forward Gideon George scored six of his 11 points in the second half and found the team some success in the paint against a stingy Gonzaga defense.
Lohner cleans up the glass
While Caleb Lohner was held scoreless on the night, the true-freshman forward cleaned up the glass for the Cougars with a team-high 10 rebounds. This mark ties Lohner’s career-high, previously set in a win over Utah in Dec. 2020.
Alex Barcello on the game...
“I thought we started out great. Our mindset was great coming into the game. We knew that if any team was going to beat them, we were the team. We had our bodies feeling as good as they could be, coming out of last night. The guys were focused. We were together. We focused on being physical and rebounding, but Gonzaga responded in the second half."
Head Coach Mark Pope
On the game...
“Gonzaga’s a great team. Congratulations to them for winning this tournament championship. They’re clearly super talented and well-coached. They did everything they needed to do to win. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. We addressed a lot of the concerns we had coming into the game. Our guys addressed them really well. We just couldn’t quite get it done. It’s super disappointing, but I’m really proud of our team."
On Trevin Knell…
“Trevin is not lacking for confidence. He had a great night for us. He was really solid on the defensive end and he made shots for us. He did a nice job running the floor in transition, and our guys did a nice job finding him. Like everybody on our team, he can step up and make big plays for us, and he did tonight.”
On the offensive struggles in the second half…
“Credit to Gonzaga for putting some pressure on us. I feel like we were trying to manage a little bit of fatigue, a little bit of running out of gas. We got some really good looks that we were really happy with, but the ball didn’t bounce our way. That’s something that we will improve on and grow on. Sometimes the game treats you that way, and it certainly did tonight."