Gonzaga looked to be well on its way to avenging last year's loss to BYU at The Kennel.
Then it didn't.
The Bulldogs lost the lead on Nick Emery's only basket of the night, a deep three-pointer with 1:38 left, and fell 69-68 to the Cougars on Thursday night.
The lead changed hands five times in the final three minutes. Once BYU (13-5, 4-1 WCC) caught Gonzaga, after trailing for the majority of the game, the Cougars capitalized and sealed the deal.
Kyle Wiltjer missed the back end of a pair of free throws with eight seconds to go, to leave BYU with the lead. As Kyle Collinsworth skied for the rebound, he lost his balance and crashed to the floor, resulting in a traveling call and giving Gonzaga the ball. Wiltjer's last shot attempt was blocked at the rim by Nate Austin.
Wiltjer was a one-man wrecking crew for the Bulldogs (13-4, 5-1), as he notched a double-double with 35 points and ten rebounds in a dominating performance. He looked to score essentially every time he touched the basketball, and was in the right place at the right time more than once in the contest.
In the second half, he put the Zags ahead by 11 with a backside rebound and putback. Later in the half, Eric McClellan drove into the lane looking to throw down what would have been a ferocious dunk. Instead, the ball was slammed off the backboard and across the court, into the waiting arms of Wiltjer. He calmly corralled the ball and buried the three.
Foul trouble was a huge factor in the game for both sides. Domantas Sabonis was limited to five points and six rebounds in just 21 minutes after picking up his third foul less than two minutes into the second half and his fourth with 12:40 to play, on a questionable -- to say the least -- charging call.
Collinsworth sat the majority of the first half as well after picking up his second foul. Despite playing just 29 minutes, he still managed 20 points, five boards, and three assists.
BYU only hit three out of the 17 three-point shots they attempted, but each of them was key in the game. The Cougars did not hit the first one until under nine minutes remained in the game, but Chase Fischer and Collinsworth each hit one to cut the deficit to a deuce, with Emery's giving his team the lead.
Fischer finished the night with 18 points, and Kyle Davis racked up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Josh Perkins had a sneaky good game, despite not shooting well from the field and with the backcourt as a whole continuing to struggle. He scored 11 points, had six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Bryan Alberts earned the starting nod, but he nor Silas Melson scored. McClellan scored eight on just 3-of-12 shooting, and Kyle Dranginis scored three in a quiet night.
Ryan Edwards was forced into duty with Sabonis' foul trouble, and looked a little overmatched early, as he missed a bunny at the hoop. He recovered to provide solid minutes opposite Wiltjer in the frontcourt, hitting his other two shot attempts and pulling in three boards.
Gonzaga suffers a crushing home loss to BYU for the second consecutive season. They stay at home to face San Diego on Saturday.
Author's note: Each team has two Kyles. My name is also Kyle. We could have our own starting lineup.