SPOKANE, Wash. — It was supposed to be another routine win for Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs had just blown out San Diego by 58 points in Spokane two days prior, and they had won all West Coast Conference games in the season by more than single digits.
BYU had come the closest, dropping a 10-point contest in Provo just three week prior, but it was what happened on Saturday night at the McCarthy Center that shocked the college basketball world, with the Cougars pulling off a 79-71 upset and denying the top-ranked Bulldogs a rare perfect regular season.
Gonzaga has made a living pouncing on teams early this season, and Saturday was no different. A Przemek Karnowski layup gave the Zags an 18-2 cushion 6.5 minutes into the game, but instead of following trend and building the lead further from there, Dave Rose’s Cougars fought back. A 3-point play by Erika Mika capped a 29-12 first half run to get BYU within a point at 31-30.
The Bulldogs pulled back out in front and led by six at the half, a lead they would build back up to double digits in the second half. But the Cougars responded again with the sophomore, Mika, burying a jumper at the 8:40 mark to give blue their first lead of the game. It was also the first time that Gonzaga had trailed in the second half in a conference game all season.
It would go back and forth from there until the final minute, when Mika knocked down his final field goal, a long jumper just inside the three point arch that put BYU 73-71. He finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Elijah Bryant, who was fresh off a career 39-point performance on Thursday in a win at Portland, then put the game out of reach after a rebound put-back with twenty seconds on the clock.
It was the Cougar’s first ever upset over a No. 1 ranked team in the country in program history, and they denied Gonzaga from finishing the season unbeaten. The last team to finish the entire season unblemished was Indiana back in 1976. BYU has now beaten Gonzaga in Spokane in three straight seasons.