BYU vs Gonzaga recap: Bulldogs pull away in the end.

BYU's Tyler Haws (3) looks to complete a jumper against Gonzaga's Drew Barham (43). - James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

BYU was able to keep things close for a half, but they couldn’t overcome poor shooting and fatigue down the stretch as Gonzaga pulled away in the second for an 84-69 win.

BYU (13-9, 5-4 WCC) kept things close for a half, but they couldn’t overcome poor shooting and fatigue down the stretch as Gonzaga (18-3, 8-1 WCC) pulled away in the second, extending BYU’s losing streak to two games as they look ahead to a crucial game at home against St. Mary’s next Saturday, February 1st.

First Half

A BYU squad pushed to the brink in a triple overtime loss to Portland earlier this week seemed to be still carrying the effects of that exhausting contest in a tough loss to Gonzaga in Spokane on Saturday night. The Cougars matched the Zags shot for shot in the first half, and finished the game with three players in double figures, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the hot hand of Kevin Pangos and the physical inside play of Sam Dower.  Pangos was held scoreless until the 4:55 mark in the first half, when he hit a three point shot, which would remain his only points of the first half.

Second Half

The second half was a much different story. Strong inside play and mid range shooting by Dower opened up the perimeter for the guards from Gonzaga as the game progressed. Pangos caught fire, and finished 9-14, going 6-10 from three point range, for 24 points. David Stockton finished with 18 points, and reserve guard Gary Bell, Jr added an additional 12 points for the Bulldogs, who extended their lead over second place St. Mary’s to 1.5 games.

BYU had another strong game from Tyler Haws, who finished with 23 points on 7-15 shooting, but Haws alone could not jumpstart the Cougars poor offensive performance. The team converted only 44.8% of their field goals and shot a miserable 18.2% from beyond the arc. Kyle Collinsworth was one of the few offensive bright spots, finishing 6-12 for 13 points. Eric Mika also had a strong night, finishing 5-9 for 12 points, but finished with four personal fouls. Nate Austin was also forced to sit a significant amount of time with four fouls as well, contributing to Dower’s efficacy in the paint. BYU’s early strategy involved double teams and stiff perimeter defense that prevented the guards from dribbling into the paint and forcing low percentage shots. It’s a strategy that could have worked if the Cougars would have had the legs to keep the intensity up, but in the second half, their fatigue started to show through as their perimeter integrity flagged, and that allowed Pangos and Stockton to light them up with free looks from long range. Once the game turned into a shootout, BYU simply wasn’t shooting well enough to catch up.

Next up:

The Cougars now return home to rest and face a pair of home games against teams from Northern California, hosting Pacific on Thursday, January 30th before hosting St. Mary’s on Saturday.

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