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BYU shocks No. 3 Gonzaga 73-70

SPOKANE, Wash. — On the final day of February, BYU ushered in March Madness in style.

In one of the biggest upsets in school history, the Cougars knocked off No. 3 Gonzaga 73-70, leaving the sellout crowd of 6,000 Saturday night at the Kennel in stunned silence when it ended.

BYU (23-8, 13-5), which never trailed, ended the Zags’ 22-game winning streak and their nation-leading, 41-game home court winning streak.

In many ways, the win meant a measure of redemption for the Cougars, who held Gonzaga (29-2, 17-1) to 37 percent shooting in the second half and outrebounded the Zags 41-39.

“We’ve lost so many close games, so many big games, it just feels nice to win the biggest game of the year so far,” said guard Kyle Collinsworth, whose putback put BYU up by five points with 18 seconds remaining. “Credit to our team, just fighting through adversity.”

The Cougars, who have now won six games in a row, just may have played their way into the NCAA tournament.

For the Zags, their hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament may have taken a big blow.

It was one of coach Dave Rose’s biggest victories.

“That’s a good one,” Rose said. “I’m really happy for our guys. They’ve had a nice little run the last few weeks. We’ve had a few games like this this year and we didn’t finish. Tonight, being able to finish and get the win is good not only for their confidence but just the group to trust each other.”

The Cougars have earned the No. 2 seed in the West Coast Conference tournament, which tips off next week in Las Vegas.

BYU had Gonzaga on the ropes all night but had to hold on over the final few minutes to secure the huge victory.

“We didn’t play that well offensively. We missed a lot of shots and had key turnovers,” said Collinsworth, who scored a game-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. “But we just stuck with it and battled all 40 minutes.”

Collinsworth rebounded his own shot and scored a layup with 18 seconds remaining to give BYU a 71-66 lead.

“I tried to do everything I could to get that ball and put it back in,” Collinsworth said. “It was a big boost for our team.”

With 6.6 seconds remaining, Tyler Haws missed two free throws, but with 2.6 left, Frank Bartley IV smartly fouled Eric McClellan, who hit both free throws but the foul prevented the Zags from hitting a 3-pointer.

Freshman Ryan Andrus was fouled with 1.5 seconds left and he knocked down both of his attempts to put the Cougars up 73-70.

Gonzaga’s half-court shot at the buzzer rimmed out and BYU survived.

It was on a night that saw star guard Tyler Haws go 3-of-11 from the field and score just 10 points.

Skyler Halford scored 14 points and Chase Fischer added 10.

BYU shot just 16 of 29 from the free-throw line, but compensated in other ways.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but we were so engaged in each play,” Rose said. “We didn’t take plays off. We had three or four guys involved in every play offensively and defensively. I felt comfortable with the group as a whole. We were dialed in tonight.”

BYU jumped out to an early 11-2 lead on Gonzaga as the Cougars held the Bulldogs to 1-of-9 shooting from the floor and blocked three shots.

The Zags battled back behind three straight inside baskets by Domantas Sabonis, cutting the deficit to 14-11.

The Cougars drilled three 3-pointers, including a 3-point-and-one by Halford to propel BYU to a 24-16 advantage midway through the half.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga, which is No. 1 in the nation in shooting, hit 10-of-13 shots after missing eight of its first nine to slice the Cougars’ lead to 27-16.

But BYU didn’t fold. The Cougars scored five straight points to go up 31-26.

The two teams battled back and forth before the Zags finished the half on a 7-0 run to tie the game at halftime, 36-36. Kevin Pangos knocked down a jumper with four seconds left in the half. It marked the only time all night that BYU wasn’t ahead.