The BYU Cougars’ defense completely silenced the Zags’ offense for the better part of 20 minutes and ran away with an easy 63-39 win over Gonzaga.
There was a lid on the rim in the Marriott Center to begin the game—especially on the Gonzaga side. The Zags got mostly good looks, especially up close, but the ball would just rattle off the rim instead of falling. Gonzaga shot just 4-for-14 to open the game. BYU wasn’t much better, shooting just 4-of-11 from the floor, but the Zags got a bit of a boost from the officials at the very end of the quarter.
Sara Hamson picked up two quick fouls in the final minute, both questionable calls at best. Then on the final shot of the quarter, Kaylee Smiler appeared to fully block Kayleigh Truong’s three as time expired, but the refs called a foul. Truong hit two of three free throws to give the Zags a 12-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
BYU’s defense continued to make the Zags’ life miserable in the second quarter. Although the Cougars weren’t finding easy looks at the basket too often, Gonzaga struggled mightily to score. The Zags shot made just one field goal in the second quarter, getting the rest of their points at the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Shaylee Gonzales, who the Zags did a halfway decent job of limiting last game (until the fourth quarter), had 13 points in the first half, helping lead BYU to a 27-17 lead into halftime.
The Cougars put the game completely away in the third quarter, going on a 12-0 run in which they feasted off of Gonzaga turnovers. Just like in Spokane, the Gonzaga offense was just completely flummoxed by the BYU defense. The Cougars did an excellent job of wiping away any decent look up close, so the Zags were forced to take a lot of shots off of quick screens or isolation. The final shot selection speaks for itself: 25 percent from the floor.
It was a repeat of the second half woes from last time around, only this time, moved up a quarter. The Zags were outscore 39-13 in the second and third frames, and the Cougars took a 50-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
Gonzaga’s defense tried as heard as possible to keep the Bulldogs in the game, but BYU’s steady half court offense provided some fantastic looks in the waning seconds of the shot clock. The Cougars ended up shooting 45 percent for the game, led by Gonzales with 21 points.
With the loss, what little hope the Zags had for a potential at-large bid evaporated. It is now WCC Tournament Championship or bust for Gonzaga.