PROVO – Despite a combined 33 points from seniors Chase Fischer and Kyle Collinsworth, BYU fell 71-68 to Gonzaga Saturday in the Marriott Center.
Collinsworth led the Cougars (22-9, 13-5 WCC) with 15 points and 15 rebounds, falling just two assists short of a triple double. Fischer contributed 18 points, including three baskets from 3-point range.
Nick Emery also scored in double figures with 11 points and pulled down six rebounds. Zac Seljaas scored nine points and added five assists to help the Cougar offense.
As a team, BYU pulled down 40 boards, outrebounding the Zags (23-7, 15-3 WCC) by two. BYU shot 32.8 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from the 3-point line.
“It was quite a game,” head coach Dave Rose said. “Two teams that I thought were battling pretty hard. A lot on the line. I congratulate Mark Few, his staff and his team for another WCC championship. They’ve got a tremendous team and program. They’re on quite a roll right now. I feel for my guys. They fought hard. It wasn’t our best game, but we battled really hard.”
In the final minute of play, Gonzaga had the ball and a two-point lead, but failed to score after a block by senior Nate Austin. With 18 seconds remaining and the shot clock turned off, Emery caught the inbound pass from under the basket and fired a 3 that fell short.
After BYU fouled, Gonzaga missed both free throws and Emery missed another 3-pointer on the following possession. On the inbound, Gonzaga was called for a charge and Domantas Sabonis fouled out of the game. BYU got the ball back with 3.5 seconds remaining, but Gonzaga stole the ball on the inbound to hold on for the victory.
Gonzaga opened the second half on an 8-4 run in the first three minutes to go up 46-38. At the 16 minute mark Collinsworth found Austin under the hoop for a dunk and BYU fought back to make the score 45-40 before the media timeout.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to double digits, but the Cougars were able to cut the deficit to five after a pair of free throws by Seljaas and a long ball from Fischer with 12:17 remaining in the first half. After two free throws by the Zags, Collinsworth drove baseline and dished the ball to a waiting Austin who threw it down to keep the Cougars within striking distance with 11:38 remaining, down 52-47.
With 9:10 remaining in the game, Fischer found daylight on a drive to the hoop and layed it in for the score before hitting a baseline tear drop on the following possesion to cut the Gonzaga lead to 8.
With the Cougars down by six, Kaufusi drew a foul to put the Cougars in the bonus and sank two free throws to cut the deficit to four, 60-56 with 6:23 to go. On the next possesion Seljaas found Emery who hit a deep trey to make the score 62-59 with 5:55 remaining in the game. Gonzaga scored twice before Seljaas also hit a three with 3:40 left to keep the Cougars within striking distance.
Trailing 68-63, Austin scored a layup and Fischer sank a 3-pointer following a Gonzaga basket to make the score 70-68 in favor of Gonzaga with 1:05 left.
BYU travels to Las Vegas for the West Coast Conference Championships next week. The Cougars will play the No. 6 seed on Saturday, March 5. Games will be televised on ESPN and BYUtv and can be heard on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
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