Shaylee Gonzales has a shot challenged by Gonzaga's Jen Wirth in the WCC Championship. The Cougars lost to the Zags on a buzzer-beater. (BYU Photo)

BYU women’s basketball loses heartbreaker to Gonzaga on buzzer-beater in WCC Championship

The BYU women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss against Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Championship on a last-second shot.

The Zags’ Jill Townsend, the WCC Player of the Year last year, made a jumper with .6 seconds left in the game to win by one point 43-42. Those were her first points of the game.

“It wasn’t the shot that cost us the game,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “It was the several other plays before that time that we either didn’t make a stop or didn’t get a rebound. We didn’t execute a play that we needed to score, just the little things.”

Shaylee Gonzales finished with 13 points, Paisley Harding with 12 points, and Lauren Gustin with eight points and 13 rebounds.

“It’s very very frustrating to know that we lost off of a game-winner with .6 seconds left, but as a team, we need to realize that we need to buckle down, that we need to take care of business,” Gonzales said.  “That’s what big teams do, but I am very proud of my team and we fought, we fought really hard.”

BYU started the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead, 36-28. Gonzales made a layup with 44 seconds to go to widen the gap, 42-39.

Gonzaga’s Jenn Wirth was fouled by Maria Albiero and made both of her free throws to make the score 42-41. BYU then took two timeouts and Harding missed a layup in the final seconds.

Gonzaga called a timeout with eight seconds left and after a missed layup by Truong, .6 seconds remained in the game and Gonzaga took another timeout. Townsend then made her jumper to win it.

“I’m proud of my girls,” Judkins said. “I thought they played their hearts out. It wasn’t one of our better games. It wasn’t one of their better games either.  It was a very defensive, physical game, which all of our games are with them.”

This was BYU’s second time in three seasons playing Gonzaga in the conference championship.

BYU led at halftime 23-13 with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from Gonzales and only let Gonzaga score five points from a three and a pair of free throws in the second quarter.

“When it comes down to games like this, it comes down to the little things you do and they did a better job in the last minute of the game and executing,” Judkins said.

Judkins said that if he were to do it again, he would have called a timeout at the end. This is his second time losing the conference championship like this and said that it was tough.

Gonzales said that they are going to use this experience to grow and practice like they are going to the NCAA Tournament.

“Personally I think that we should go (to the NCAA tournament),” Judkins said. “We played Gonzaga three times pretty great. We are as good as anybody and hopefully through what we’ve done in the past and what we’ve done this year, people will say that BYU is a top-64 team in the country.”

The Cougars will find out for sure whether they make it into the Big Dance on Monday, March 15.

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