Gonzaga won’t be adding their names to any history books this year after their potential perfect season was ruined by the BYU Cougars, 79-71, on Saturday night, on Senior Night.
With the sting going all the way back to Senior Night in the 2014-15 season, BYU did it again, only this time it seemed even less possible. The Zags raced out to a 16-2 lead before you could even blink, and right out of the gate, it seemed all but absolutely certain that Gonzaga was going to win it.
But then again, this is Gonzaga we are talking about, and they are well versed at lobbing us up some soul crushing defeats. Led by an absolutely stellar performance from Eric Mika (we’ll ignore that lazy ass flagrant foul on Przemek Karnowski), BYU clawed back to just down six at half time.
From there, they did exactly what they had done all game. Pound the ball to Mika down low, and hit the occasional massive outside shot. Mika finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds and is certainly an individual I would be perfectly fine with never seeing in my life ever ever ever again.
Nigel Williams-Goss did what he could. Like always, the junior guard seemed to be the constant answer, but even his shot wasn’t as dependable as it always is. NWG finished with 19 points but needed 17 field goal attempts to get there. The Bulldogs got 12 points from Jordan Mathews and Johnathan Williams, and 10 points from Przemek Karnowski and Josh Perkins, but turnovers (we’ll get to those), poor free throw shooting and a non-existent outside threat doomed the Zags.
The game was back and forth for the better part of the second half, and a jumper by Mika put BYU up 73-71 with just over a minute remaining. Unfortunately, first game of the year vintage as all get out Perkins emerged from hiding and had two absolutely unforgiveable turnovers IN THE FINAL MINUTE. That is how you get from 73-71 to 79-71 in a minute’s time.
So yeah, we can blame Perkins on this one, because people will do that regardless. Perkins, by all accounts, didn’t have a good game. Fact of the matter is the rest of the team didn’t either. Gonzaga looked exactly like Gonzaga for the first 10 minutes of the game, but after that, the offense always looked a step too slow, the defense just one word behind in communication. After scoring 60 points in 32 minutes of basketball, the Zags scored just 11 in the final eight.
People will point out the horrid free throw shooting (16-of-29) but I’ll counter with the equally bad three point shooting (3-of-16).
BYU did what few teams were able to do this season: make the Zags appear mortal. Hats off to them. Now, is there a way we can uninvite them from the WCC?