Upset-minded Cougars Fall to No. 1 Gonzaga at Home
PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball lost its second home game of the season in an 82-71 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center on Monday.
“I'm really proud of our guys,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “We had some things that we didn't do well and some areas of the game where we struggled. With the exception of about four or five minutes, I thought we fought really hard and tried to compete. We have to continue to work hard and get better. That's the agenda at hand.”
BYU (15-5, 6-3 WCC) trailed Gonzaga (19-0, 10-0 WCC) the entirety of the game. BYU was able to shoot 48 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep, but was outscored in the paint by 12 and allowed Gonzaga to score 26 points off 19 turnovers. The Bulldogs finished the night shooting 51 percent from the field and 6-18 from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Alex Barcello led the Cougars with 20 points on 9-16 shooting. Barcello also logged five assists and four rebounds. Fellow guard Brandon Averette added 14 points and a team-high six assists.
Sophomore guard Spencer Johnson reached double figures for the fifth time this year, scoring 11 points and collecting four boards in 24 minutes of play. Freshman forward Caleb Lohner continued to be a force on the glass and led the team with eight rebounds, three of which coming on the offensive end. Lohner also scored nine points, going 3-5 from the field and 1-1 from three.
Gonzaga jumped out to an early 13-2 lead just 2:34 into the game, connecting on three of four from deep, forcing a timeout from Pope. The Cougars responded, outscoring the Bulldogs 8-6 after a series of buckets from Barcello, Gideon George, Johnson, and Richard Harward.
Averette hit the Cougars’ first three of the night to cut the Bulldog lead to six, but a three by Jalen Suggs and a pair of made baskets by Drew Timme extended the Gonzaga lead to a game-high 13, 26-13, with 10:24 to go in the half.
Gonzaga put the clamps on defensively, holding BYU to just four points in 5:14 of game time, with both baskets coming from Barcello. Barcello went on to score 10 straight points for a struggling BYU offense with 2:23 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs had struggles of their own, hitting just one shot in the final 4:49 of the half, but the Cougars were unable to capitalize and went into the break down 10, 41-31. The Cougars entered halftime shooting 40 percent from the field but the Bulldogs shot 50 percent while making five more buckets. BYU committed 10 first-half turnovers and finished the half just 3-11 from deep after starting 3-5. Gonzaga scored 20 points in the paint and finished the half with six steals.
Barcello hit a jumper from the elbow to start the second half, bringing the Cougars within eight, 41-33. On the other end of the floor, Barcello collected a defensive rebound after a missed three by Timme, giving Barcello his fourth rebound.
Gideon George ended a streak of six consecutive three-point misses for BYU, hitting his first three of the night to bring BYU’s deficit back down to nine, at 36-45. Timme followed with the 24th point in the paint for the Bulldogs. Lohner cleaned up a missed shot by a slashing George for his sixth point of the game to put BYU down 11 with 16:08 left.
A 20-6 Bulldog run ensued, spanning nearly seven minutes, ultimately putting the game out of reach. The Gonzaga lead stretched to a game-high 22 points at 72-50 with just 7:19 to go.
Aggressive defense and five fastbreak baskets for the Cougars cut the Gonzaga lead down to as low as nine points, but the late effort wasn’t enough and BYU fell to Gonzaga for the second time this season, 82-71.
The Cougars will continue conference play on road against Pacific on Thursdsay, Feb. 18, in Stockton, California. Tip-off at Alex G. Spanos Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST. The game is slated to be televised on the CBS Sports Network and broadcast on the BYU Sports Networks on BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2 and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.
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