Kyle Wiltjer led the Zags with 29 points as Gonzaga held off every haymaker BYU threw to push past the Cougars, 88-84, and advance to the WCC Tournament championship. The season is still going my friends. The season is still going.
The third game between BYU and Gonzaga lived up to every thing that was expected, and then some. The two teams have played each other as close as possible, and this time around, the refs also tried to make sure the game stayed as close as possible.
We'll get back to them.
Kyle Wiltjer was fantastic in the first half, pacing Gonzaga with 17 points. Josh Perkins chipped in 11 first half points as well, but much of his effectiveness was offset by some pretty bad turnovers. Overall, turnovers plagued the Zags. They finished with nine in the first half, and that allowed BYU to stay in the game.
That and Nick Emery of course. Emery finished with 27 points, many of which were coming off of deep threes that were 50% breakdown in defense and 50% he has no business shooting that. Nick Emery is a freshman y'all, and we are going to get used to hating him for the next three years.
Despite trailing for much of the second half, BYU was able to go into halftime tied, thanks large and in part to the WCC refs completely missing what could only be described as the most blantant offensive interference call in the history of the universe. The refs went to the monitors, merely to check if the shot went in in time, which of course it did. But that wasn't the issue, the no call was.
But enough about the refs. I refuse to give them any more air time for what was a pretty terribly called game, inconsistent on both ends. After letting players hammer the living hell out of each other for 20 minutes, the refs clamped down in the second half, and BYU felt the brunt of it.
So did Domantas Sabonis, in a different way. He got hacked and every other adjective for hacked the entire game. But the big man just kept on truckin. Sabonis finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but his most impressive job was on the defensive end. Sabonis stayed on the court for 39 minutes, and because he had no semblance of foul trouble, coach Mark Few stuck Sabonis on Kyle Collinsworth for a good portion of the second half. The big man gave Collinsworth fits. After scoring 11 points in the first half, Collinsworth could only muster six in the second half.
Shout out to Eric McClellan in the game as well, who scored 15 much needed points and was a dangerous threat from beyond the arc. Folks, this was a big game (obviously), but most importantly, the Zags took every punch that BYU threw and responded accordingly. Gonzaga held the lead for 36 minutes in this game, most importantly playing smart basketball and closing it out in style.
Now, BYU is possibly off to the NIT and Gonzaga is one game away from the NCAA Tournament. There is still some life in this team, and they are showing it at the exact right time. They'll need every bit of it tomorrow. Saint Mary's looked great in their win over Pepperdine.