BYU rally comes up short against #1 Gonzaga, 82-71

Sports

Alex Barcello scores 20, but BYU loses to Bulldogs for second time this season

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) drives as BYU center Richard Harward (42) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU shocked the college basketball world last February, beating then #2 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center as thousands of fans stormed the court.

It was a much different atmosphere and a different result on Monday, as the top-ranked Bulldogs held off the Cougars, 82-71, for its 23rd consecutive victory.

Jalen Suggs scored 24 points, while Drew Timme added 20 points and 13 rebounds, as Gonzaga, which hasn’t lost since that game against the Cougars, improved to 19-0.

“We just remembered last year,” Timme said. “It’s still a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Alex Barcello led BYU (15-5) with 20 points, while Brandon Averette added 14 points and six assists. Spencer Johnson led the bench effort with 11 points.

7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms was held scoreless on just one field goal attempt.

Andrew Nembhard added 15 points and Corey Kispert had 13 as the Bulldogs (19-0, 10-0 West Coast Conference) led wire-to-wire.

Gonzaga quickly put BYU in a big hole and the Cougars spent the rest of the first half trying to climb out of it. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-2 lead four minutes in after scoring seven points off four turnovers. Five players had a basket, and Suggs capped the opening burst with a pair of buckets.

“They came out playing with tremendous pace,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “They’re deceptively physical. They took it to us again in terms of the physicality of the game.”

BYU cut the deficit to 19-13 on a 3-pointer from Averette, but Gonzaga did not let the Cougars get any closer before halftime.

Suggs and Timme combined to score five baskets over five consecutive possessions to fuel a 15-6 run. Timme capped the spurt with a jumper that gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the first half at 34-19.

BYU trimmed the margin to 52-44 early in the second period on a layup from Connor Harding. Nembhard slammed the door on a comeback, scoring three baskets over a two-minute stretch to push Gonzaga’s lead back to double digits.

BYU cut the deficit to eight in the second half before the Bulldogs held the Cougars to two baskets over a seven-minute span.

“In that (seven)-minute stretch where we lost our fight, we lost our physicality,” Barcello said. “We just can’t have that happen when we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country.”

The Bulldogs used a 20-6 run to build a 72-50 advantage with 7:19 remaining. Gonzaga hit nine straight shots during that stretch. Suggs made four of them, including on three straight possessions.

Gonzaga leads the nation in field goal percentage entering the game, connecting on 55.1% of their attempts. Gonzaga shot 50.8% against BYU.

BYU committed 19 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Bulldogs.

The Cougars next scheduled game is February 18th at Pacific.

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