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BYU struggles to finish in loss to Gonzaga

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BYU senior Kyle Collinsworth earned another double-double — 15 point and 15 rebounds — in BYU's loss to Gonzaga Saturday night in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

BYU senior Kyle Collinsworth earned another double-double — 15 point and 15 rebounds — in BYU’s loss to Gonzaga Saturday night in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

The BYU men’s basketball team fell short 71–68 in a loud game at the Marriott Center Saturday night.

“I feel for my guys,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “They fought hard. It wasn’t our best game, but we battled really hard. Kyle (Collinsworth) got that second foul and it took the wind out of our sails early and they went on a big run. … We battled back and got into a position where we just needed to make a couple plays and things would be a lot different right now. Now we’ve got to re-group and get ready for next Saturday.”

BYU struggled to find their pace up and down the court all night as well as find a rhythm for shooting — they shot 31.3 percent from behind the arc on the night. And part of the problem was two of BYU’s starters had to spend a good portion of the first half on the bench because of foul trouble. Freshman Nick Emery (11 points) came out at 12:39 and BYU senior Kyle Collinsworth (15 points, 15 rebounds) came out with 8:24 remaining in the first half. Despite BYU being down two of their prolific scorers, BYU never fell more than 9 points behind and closed the gap to 4 to go into the halftime 34–38.

BYU came into the second half shooting cold, but made a surge in the last 10 minutes of the game. The Cougars closed the gap with a chance to take the lead and the game with just over a minute remaining.

A Fischer 3-pointer brought the score to 68–70 with 1:05 remaining in the game. The Cougars had multiple opportunities to score in the last minute with three 3-point attempts and a jumper in the last 26 seconds of the game. Three of those shots were by freshmen Nick Emery and Zac Seljaas.

“I tried to reach for it, but I got grabbed a little bit and couldn’t extend my arm to go get it. It was a tough play. I’m sure it was a tough angle for a ref. Their job is hard too just like our job is out there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.” —Kyle Collinsworth on the last play of the game

“We have confidence in everybody,” said BYU senior Chase Fischer, who led the team with 18 points. “If you’re on the floor, Coach Rose has confidence in you and that’s the way we play win or lose. I’m confidence in Nick, I’m confident in Zac and everyone on the floor.”

But those shots didn’t make it into the net.

However, saving graces fated the Cougars one more chance

Fischer drew an offensive foul from Gonzaga’s forward star Domantas Sabonis, who ended the game with 15 points. Fischer said he could feel Sabonis leaning into him for the inbound pass, so Fischer let momentum take its course and Sabonis was called for a foul.

With 3.5 seconds left in the game, the Cougars had the ball under their basket. Collinsworth wasn’t able to secure the inbound pass.

“I tried to reach for it, but I got grabbed a little bit and couldn’t extend my arm to go get it,” Collinsworth said. “It was a tough play. I’m sure it was a tough angle for a ref. Their job is hard too just like our job is out there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”

The Cougars finish season play 22–9 overall and 13–5 in the West Coast Conference. BYU will play the No. 6 seed at the West Coach Conference Championships next week in Las Vegas, and BYU senior captains are ready to prepare their team for the tournament.

“We have nothing to lose,” Fischer said. “We’re a dangerous team. I don’t think any team wants to play us from our conference because of how explosive we are offensively and how we compete. … We’re going to rally the troops. We’re going to stay positive. … Obviously, we only have a limited window and I think we’re going to play our best basketball.”

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