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BYU upsets No. 25 Gonzaga in Spokane 69-68

The Cougars move back into the bubble conversation with the win, while the loss forces Gonzaga into it as well.

BYU's Jordan Chatman guards Gonzaga's Josh Perkins.
BYU's Jordan Chatman guards Gonzaga's Josh Perkins.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

First place Gonzaga fell at home to BYU, giving the Cougars their first real resume win of the season.

Kyle Wiltjer scored a game high 35 points, his third straight game with 30-plus, but another second half collapse from his teammates wasted that. It took the Cougars over 30 minutes before they hit a three. Nate Austin, who has been in and out of the starting lineup this season, was the hero. Also, Gonzaga lost at home for the third time this season. The Zags have only lost three times in a season at the McCarthey Athletic Center once.

BYU point guard Kyle Collinsworth (20 points), who drew the defensive assignment on Wiltjer, picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench. Then Nick Emery picked up his second foul, forcing Jordan Chatman to run the point for the last minutes of the second half.

After a close start Gonzaga went on a 15-4 run fueled by threes that gave the Zags a 24-14 lead. But BYU responded with an 8-0 run of its own.

At the half, Kyle Wiltjer had 17 of the Zags' 36 points. Domantas Sabonis (five points) had an off night, getting into early foul trouble and not recovering.

The second half picked up right where the first half left off, with BYU's offense sputtering and Gonzaga failing to capitalize. BYU went 0-9 from three in the first yet Gonzaga led by just four points. The Cougars are a team that takes, and makes, a lot of threes.

Early in the second Gonzaga started pulling away, extending their lead to 13 points on two occasions.

But that kind of lead isn't enough when you're playing Kyle Collinsworth and a team of three point sharpshooters. Especially when your team is basically just Kyle Wiltjer.

An 8-0 BYU run — all eight points coming in the paint, with six from Collinsworth — shrunk the lead to five points in less than two minutes. Then, the Cougars hit their first three of the game. Chase Fischer (18 points) hit it, and the Cougars were within a possession of the lead.

Gonzaga made just three field goals over the final ten-plus minutes.

So, when Nick Emery hit a three from Jimmer-range (it was also his first field goal of the game, with just 1:38 to play) the Cougars took a two point lead, 69-67.

An odd sequence ended the game, with Kyle Collinsworth getting called for a travel pulling down a rebound and getting undercut while coming down. That rebound came on a missed free throw by Wiltjer, the second of two that would have tied the game.

Gonzaga got the ball into Wiltjer, who drove to the basket but had his shot blocked. Nate Austin, who left the game with injury in the first half, may have saved the season for the Cougars. His block ensured that BYU will not finish the season without any signature wins.

As the block travelled to the sideline Josh Perkins (11 points) pushed Austin, and was called for a foul. That play completed the backcourt meltdown that Gonzaga fans have become far too accustomed to.

BYU improves to 13-5 on the season and 4-1 in WCC play. Gonzaga falls to 13-4 and 5-1.