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Gonzaga credits loss to BYU for success in NCAA tournament

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BYU freshman Yoeli Childs and Gonzaga senior Przemek Karnowski battled for possession during a game in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Rebecca Lane/UV360)

As Gonzaga’s basketball team prepares for the NCAA championship game Monday night, they are grateful they aren’t going into the game undefeated, according to Yahoo! Sports.

In February, the Cougars dished the then-undefeated Bulldogs its first and only loss. The 79–71 victory for the Cougars was the third year in a row the Cougars had defeated the Bulldogs in The Kennel — but it was an even bigger deal than previous years. Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the AP poll and the ESPN broadcaster perfectly explained the scenario when he proclaimed, “Goliath goes down,” at the end of the game.

“It definitely helped us,” Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews said in a Final Four post-game press conference. “There’s a process we have to winning, and we kind of deviated from it in that game. We’d been so used to crushing teams. In that game, we were up 18-2 early and we got away from what we did to get that lead. That made us realize if we don’t stick with the process, we’ll be in trouble.”

The Bulldogs were devastated, but the loss that brought their record to 29-1 at the conclusion of West Coast Conference play was also a helpful awakening for the team.

“I thought it was good for us from the moment the buzzer went off,” said Gonzaga guard Silas Melson in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “For one, we experienced the taste of losing. We don’t want to feel that, but it helps. I also don’t think the Sports Gods respect undefeated teams. Wichita State went undefeated. Lost. Kentucky went undefeated. Lost. The Patriots went undefeated. Lost. Everybody is going to take an L eventually. I think ours came at the perfect time.”

Gonzaga, now 37-1, will take on the UNC Tar Heels (32-7) at 9:20 p.m. ET on CBS. Read the entire article, “How Gonzaga’s only loss helped spearhead its run to the title game,” on Yahoo! Sports.

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