Collinsworth injured after Cougars fall hard to Gonzaga in WCC Championship game

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LAS VEGAS — The arena was alive with the celebratory roars of Gonzaga fans just before the final buzzer sounded. The Cougars gave every last bit of what they had but came up short in an emotional loss to the Bulldogs in the WCC Championship 75-64.

The first half was nothing but a hassle for BYU, its big players having a hard time scoring as well as defending the basket. Tyler Haws had an off night again, scoring 24 points, 11 of those free throws and only one three-point shot. Gonzaga was nothing but net, Sam Dower scoring 20 points and Gary Bell another 14.

Head coach Dave Rose takes a seat after Tuesday's WCC Championship game loss to Gonzaga. Photo by Elliott Miller
Head coach Dave Rose takes a seat after Tuesday’s WCC Championship game loss to Gonzaga. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

Kyle Collinsworth scored 13 points,hitting three of his five free throws, and grabbed six rebounds. But his time on the court in the second half was limited. The guard went down on the paint while trying to defend the basket, clenching his knee in pain.

“The doctors right now are calling it an injured knee, and he will have an MRI tomorrow,” said head coach Dave Rose. “He was in a lot of pain and was unable to return (to the game).”

After Collinsworth left the game, the Cougars restored some much-needed energy and pushed back on the Bulldogs as hard as they could. At one point they were able to close the gap to eight points.

“We got a little too tentative on the offensive end,” said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. “We were looking at trying to protect the lead a little bit, but again that zone is something you have to be patient against, and BYU was able to get inside.”

The post season now looms on the horizon for BYU, which hopes to hear its name called from the NCAA tournament selection committee this coming Sunday.

“Without a doubt (BYU is an NCAA tournament team),” Few said. “Just by how hard they play, how skilled they are because nobody attacks offensively like BYU does. I thought they played probably the toughest schedule in the country. There is not a question in my mind that they are an NCAA tournament team.”

If Collinsworth’s injury benches him, it could negatively affect BYU in the post season, potentially hurting its NCAA tournament selection.

The team is going in confident though, hoping to learn from this championship loss and show the NCAA selection committee it deserves a spot in the tournament.

“I think we should find ourselves in that tournament,” Haws said. “This has been a challenging season, and I feel like our guys have come together, so I think we have done enough to get in.”

Check out a slideshow from the game.

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