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BYU’s seniors carry No. 23 Cougars to ‘magical’ upset of No. 2 Gonzaga

The result — a 91-78 win for the ages by the No. 23 Cougars before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,987 Saturday on Senior Night. As the final buzzer sounded, fans rushed the court for a jubilant celebration.

Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) celebrates with fans after BYU toppled No. 2-ranked Gonzaga 91-78 at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

PROVO — No. 2 Gonzaga found out what happens when what BYU coach Mark Pope calls the “magical” quality of seniors collides with “Marriott Center Magic.”

The result — a 91-78 win for the ages by the No. 23 Cougars before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,987 Saturday on Senior Night.

As the final buzzer sounded, fans rushed the court for a jubilant celebration.

The seniors led the way in their final game at the Marriott Center. Yoeli Childs finished with a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds, Jake Toolson had 17 points, TJ Haws added 16 and Zac Seljaas chipped in 12.

With the win, BYU extended its winning streak to eight games and ended Gonzaga’s 19-game winning streak.

It marked the Cougars first win over the Zags at home since 2014.

Oh, and it also gave Pope his 100th career victory as a head coach.

Earlier in the day, No. 1 Baylor lost at home to No. 3 Kansas, giving Gonzaga an opportunity to reclaim the top spot that it lost to the Bears in January.

But BYU (23-7, 12-3) was poised to spring the upset against the Zags (27-2, 13-1). Gonzaga’s only other loss this season came at the hands of Michigan back in November.

Leading by eight at halftime, BYU started fast in the second half, and a 10-2 run gave the Cougars its biggest lead of the game, 58-44.

However, Childs was whistled for his third foul with 16:36 remaining and with him on the bench, the Zags went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 58-50.

BYU pushed its lead back up to 13 points, 63-50, before Gonzaga outscored the Cougars 18-7 over the next seven minutes to pull within 70-68.

At that point of the second half, the Zags were outrebounding BYU 17-6.

Hustle plays by Seljaas provided the Cougars with a big boost down the stretch.

Alex Barcello buried a 3-pointer at the 4:32 mark to make it 82-74 for BYU and moments later, Haws drilled a 3 and the Cougars led 85-76 with 3:53 remaining.

BYU outscored the Zags 9-2 over the final four minutes to secure the win. A dunk by Childs with 59 seconds remaining all but sealed it for the Cougars.

Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) celebrates with fans who rushed the court after BYU toppled No. 2-ranked Gonzaga 91-78 at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

From the outset, this game was physical and the pace was frenetic.

Early on, Toolson had to leave the court briefly because his face was bleeding after colliding with Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie under the basket.

Meanwhile, Haws drew a pair of charges in the opening minutes to go along with a couple of rebounds, a steal, an assist and four points.

Gonzaga grabbed an early 14-8 lead, but the Cougars cut the deficit to 14-12 after a putback by Gavin Baxter, who flew through the lane after a missed 3-pointer by Connor Harding.

Childs scored six consecutive points to give BYU a 21-18 advantage with nine minutes left in the half.

Five Cougars, including Childs, picked up two fouls in the first half.

Childs, Toolson and Haws each hit a 3-pointer over the final three minutes of the half to put BYU ahead 44-36.

After a pair of free throws by Tillie, a Haws jumper with 31 seconds remaining gave the Cougars a 46-38 halftime lead.

Childs had 15 points and Haws added 11 in the first half.

BYU finishes regular-season play next Saturday at Pepperdine.