SPOKANE — The Cougars upset the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs 73-70 Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd in the McCarthey Athletic Center, snapping the Bulldogs’ 41-game home winning streak.
Such a loss might cost Gonzaga its No. 1 spot in the NCAA Tournament but is bound to get BYU off the bubble.
Kyle Collinsworth led the Cougars with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists. He was named MVP of the night.
Both teams came out battling in this highly anticipated game between the Bulldogs and the Cougars. With turnovers from both sides, the score remained close.
The Cougars maintained the lead throughout the first half until the Bulldogs tied the score 36-36 only seconds before halftime. Haws put up a season low of three points in the half. Skyler Halford and Collinsworth dominated the court with nine points each. The Cougars were 44.4 percent from the free throw line.
The crowd got louder, and the pressure increased in the second half as BYU focused on the win.
Fischer and Halford regained the lead with two 3-pointers. “We knew with the home court advantage that they have and the type of players that they have the game was never over until it was over,” Halford said.
Continuous turnovers at Gonzaga’s goal and a shooting streak of seven points by Haws allowed the Cougars to increase their lead to 11 points just a few minutes in the game.
An over-the-shoulder hook shot from Corbin Kaufusi and a massive dunk from Collinsworth added to the score. The Zags responded with 3-pointers and offensive layup.
The Cougars wound down the clock as the Zags put up enough shots to close the score gap to three points. Haws was fouled and sent to the line with just five seconds left in the game. The BYU record holder for free throws missed both shots. Gonzaga inbounded the ball and scored three, closing BYU’s lead to one.
Freshman Ryan Andrus was fouled on the inbound and sent to the line. Pressure mounted as the game became dependent on the free throw shooter who had only shot 12 times at the line this season. He made both shots.
With palpable tension from the Cougars’ bench and the Gonzaga Kennel, every call riled fans.
With 1.5 seconds left, the Zags threw up a half court Hail Mary as the BYU Cougars claimed their first No. 2 upset since November 1981 against UCLA.
“Ryan (Andrus) stepped up there and made them both. He’s a young kid that didn’t play a lot of minutes, and those are two big shots,” BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said. “The best thing is we got a win here. Four years in the league and we’ve finally won at every venue.”
This game marked the ninth time Gonzaga was defeated at home since the McCarthey Center was opened in 2004.
The Cougars shot 42.4 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from the free throw line and 55.2 percent from the free throw line during the game. Haws scored a season low of 10 points.
This win is vital for the team. Not only do BYU’s chances of winning the WCC Conference increase, but so does the BYU Cougar confidence level. Rose said the team has “found a way to do it.” He continued explaining that what stands out about the team is that the guys are starting to “believe in each other.”
“This is why I love basketball,” Collinsworth said. “I love winning big games, celebrating with my teammates and reflecting back on all the hard work we’ve done. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but the hard work is paying off.”
If the Cougars make it to the championship, they will likely face the Bulldogs once more in the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. BYU will play the winner of USF/LMU on Saturday night.