BYU MenÕs basketball vs. Nevada 14

Brigham Young University head coach Mark Pope watches as a play unfolds during a game between the BYU Cougars and the Nevada Wolf Pack on Tuesday, Dec.10, 2019, at the Marriott Center in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

BYU coach Mark Pope left his starters in to the very end of Saturday’s 92-69 blowout loss at No. 1 Gonzaga, a close-up view of the ’Zags shooting and dunking their way to an easy victory.

The Cougars hope next month in Provo they will be at full strength and be able to get some revenge. Leading scorer and rebounder Yoeli Childs, who had missed the past three games due to a finger injury, dressed and participated in warm-ups at the Kennel but did not play.

“Congratulations to Gonzaga. They played well tonight and are obviously the best team in America,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “Our guys are playing so hard and are putting their hearts and soul on the court. These guys are giving us everything so we will continue grinding away and get better everyday because that is what we have to do. It’s all about how we respond to this and we will respond well and we will keep pushing ahead.”

Killian Tillie scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Corey Kispert added 19 points as top-ranked Gonzaga (6-0 WCC, 20-1 overall) ran away in the second half, shooting 74% (17-of-23) from the field even with leading scorer Filip Petrusev leaving the game earlier in the half due to an ankle injury.

The ’Zags also outrebounded the Cougars 37-21, outscored the visitors 19-3 in fast break points and had a 12-2 advantage in second-chance points.

BYU, meanwhile, never found the range from the 3-point line and finished just 6-of-20 (30%) while shooting a respectable 51% (29-of-57) overall. But Gonzaga made 19-of-25 from the foul line (to just 5-of-10 for the Cougars) and outscored BYU 54-38 in the second half.

T.J. Haws scored 17 points and had six assists and Jake Toolson added 16 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the well-oiled machine that is the ’Zags No. 1 offense in the country.

Gonzaga has the longest home winning streak in the country at 34 straight and also set the WCC record for consecutive league wins at 33.

Every shot, drive and defensive play by the ’Zags makes it easy to see why.

BYU missed its first seven shots from distance and fell behind quickly. The Cougars also had issues blocking out the Bulldogs on the boards and was outrebounded 21-14, including eight to one on the offensive boards. Predictably, Gonzaga pounded the ball inside and was rewarded with 14 points in the first half from Tillie.

BYU trailed 20-13 after Jay Ajayi scored at the 10:31 mark and the Bulldogs pushed that advantage to 13 points, 31-18, when Tillie made a 3-pointer with just under five minutes to play. BYU closed the half on a 9-3 run that included a pair of baskets from Haws and the Cougars first 3-pointer from Zac Seljaas. The Cougars trailed 38-31 at the half.

Haws led BYU in the first half with seven points and Lee and Sejaas added six each. The Cougars actually shot well from inside the arc and finished at 48 percent from the field.

The poor 3-point shooting for BYU continued in the second half. Gonzaga took a 59-45 lead with 11 minutes to play and a Kispert 3-pointer moved his team out to a 71-55 advantage with 7:17 remaining.

Kispert’s basket was part of a 15-2 run that saw the home team’s lead balloon to 24 points, 81-57, with four minutes remaining.

BYU (3-2, 14-6) will return to the road next week, traveling to the Bay Area to play at Pacific and San Francisco.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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