The Gonzaga Women ran into their kryptonite once again and fell in a heartbreaker at home to the BYU Cougars 66-64 on Saturday. They fall to 23-3 and 12-2 in the WCC with both losses coming to BYU. Gonzaga still holds a game lead in the loss column and is on track to be the number one seed in Las Vegas.
BYU came out absolutely on fire. They led 24-13 after a quarter and 43-36 at halftime thanks in part to a blistering 10-for-14 performance from beyond the arc. The dynamic trio of Shaylee Gonzales, Brenna Chase, and Paisley Johnson combined for 45 points on the night.
In the second half, Gonzaga scratched and clawed their way back in the game. They cut the lead to two with a under a minute to go the third quarter, but Gonzales scored the final five points, including a buzzer beating floater, to extend the lead back to seven.
This was a theme in the second half. Every Gonzaga run was answered by a big shot from BYU. The Zags cut it to three again midway through the fourth before Chase hit a three as the shot clock was expiring.
But the Bulldogs were not done fighting. After stringing together four straight stops, Jill Townsend hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to tie the game at 64. Gonzaga would get another stop and had the ball with a chance to win the game. They gave it to Townsend on a high-low action, but BYU’s Sarah Hamson came over to block the shot and force a shot clock violation with 2.5 seconds remaining.
After a BYU timeout advanced the ball to half court, Zykera Rice was called for a foul off the ball trying to fight through a screen. With BYU in the bonus, Johnson stepped up and drained both free throws with 2.2 remaining to give BYU a 66-64 lead. Gonzaga’s last chance heave went awry and the Cougars celebrated another victory over the 13th ranked Zags.
Rice had 20 points on the night. Townsend added 12 and Laura Stockton moved into third place on Gonzaga’s career assist leaderboard. Three of the final four games for Gonzaga are against bottom tier WCC teams. They are still in a good spot to grab the top seed in the WCC tournament. But the loss tonight certainly puts a dent into their hopes of securing a Top Four seed and therefore hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.