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BYU Basketball struggles mightily in loss to Gonzaga in home finale

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

19 points and 8 rebounds from Yoeli Childs were not enough as the BYU Cougars (22-9, 11-7) suffered a 79-65 defeat against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-4, 17-1) in their final regular season game of 2017-18 at the Marriott Center on Saturday night. Elijah Bryant scored 14 points on just 5/17 shooting, while all five Gonzaga starters plus Rui Hachimura off the bench scored in double figures, led by Jonathan Williams with 16 points.

Bryant struggled to start the game, missing his first four shots in the opening minutes of the game. Josh Perkins swished a three in transition to give Gonzaga a 16-8 lead, forcing a BYU timeout less than six minutes into the game. Jahshire Hardnett scored 8 of BYU’s first ten points, but Perkins swished another three pointer from Jimmer Fredette range to extend the Gonzaga lead to 23-10 by the second media timeout. BYU went on an 8-0 run to cut the Zags’ lead to 26-20 after a three pointer from Dalton Nixon, a layup by Hardnett, and a three point play from Bryant. However, a three from Silas Melson capped a 6-0 run for the Zags to answer.

After going scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the game, T.J. Haws came alive with a three pointer and a strong drive to convert a three point play to cut the Zags lead to 34-28. Back-to-back threes from Elijah Bryant got the Cougars as close as they had been since the opening minutes, with Gonzaga leading by only two points with 2:10 remaining in the half. Another long range three from Perkins helped Gonzaga take a 43-38 lead into halftime.

BYU struggled through a prolonged drought as Gonzaga went on an extended 22-8 run to open the second half to build their largest lead of 19 points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Cougars had run out of steam, and were not able to make a significant comeback from that point on, suffering a 14 point loss to the Zags.

BYU will be the #3 seed in the WCC Tournament, and their opponent in the quarterfinals will be determined later tonight.