The Cougars had no answer for Sam Dower and the inside play of the Bulldogs as Gonzaga beat BYU 75-64 on Tuesday night to win the West Coast Conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the Big Dance.
Dower finished with 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds. As good as the Bulldogs' inside play was, it was the defense of David Stockton and Kevin Pangos that made all the difference in the contest. Both played all 40 minutes and forced the Cougar guards to shoot contested shots all night long.
Tyler Haws led the way for BYU with 24 points to go along with five rebounds. The only other Cougar to score in double figures was Kyle Collinsworth, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds before leaving the game after an apparent knee injury.
The starting guards
Haws made 6-of-14 shots from the field and all 11 of his free-throw attempts in 38 minutes on the floor. Collinsworth really looked to force the action offensively and had some success, but was credited with four turnovers before exiting the game. Anson Winder was solid on the defensive end, but disappeared offensively and went scoreless in the game while only taking four shots.
The starting frontcourt
Nate Austin scored two points and grabbed five rebounds, but was no match on the inside for the Gonzaga big men. Eric Mika had an impressive night on the glass with 10 rebounds and blocked two shots, but was held to just eight points on eight field goal attempts. He had a hard time rotating out of the BYU zone defense, leaving the Zags with plenty of open looks.
With Mika back in the starting lineup, BYU only got 17 points off the bench. Matt Carlino scored eight points, but was only 3-of-12 from the floor and 2-of-5 from the free-throw line. Frank Bartley IV played well in his first sustained game action in some time. He registered nine points and four rebounds. Halford, Sharp and Worthington also saw some floor time and combined for three rebounds.
BYU stayed in the zone far too long to start the game and Gonzaga took advantage. The Bulldogs had plenty of open looks from the corners after good ball movement and the Cougars didn't adjust. The BYU offense was ineffective against the Bulldogs' press defense leaving the Cougars to shoot 35.6 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from behind the arc.
Gonzaga got up on BYU early and the Cougars had no answers. It took until the injury of Collinsworth for BYU to show some fight. They managed to cut into a 20-point deficit and make the game interesting from that point on, but it was too little too late. Gonzaga was a step ahead of the Cougars all night long and it showed.
Now the Cougars and their fans will have a few anxious days wondering about the health of Collinsworth, and also if they have done enough to earn an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.