SPOKANE, Washington — No. 3 Gonzaga has stumbled early in recent games, falling behind before rallying to beat West Coast Conference opponents.
It finally caught up with the Bulldogs on Saturday night, when they lost 73-70 to BYU in a game they never led.
"We're fine," guard Eric McClellan said. "We needed this to wake us up a little."
Kyle Collinsworth scored 20 points and BYU ended the Bulldogs' school-record 22-game winning streak, perhaps costing them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga had won 41 straight at home — the longest streak in the nation.
"We didn't play our best," said guard Kevin Pangos, who scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. "They played real well."
Pangos said he isn't sure why the Zags have fallen into a pattern of slow starts.
"We've got to fix it," he said. "There is a lot of basketball left to play. We've got to get more aggressive."
The Cougars won their sixth in a row to boost their NCAA tournament hopes heading into the West Coast Conference tournament.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs," Collinsworth said. "We've lost so many close games, big games. ... It was nice to win the biggest game."
Byron Wesley scored 17 points to lead Gonzaga (29-2, 17-1), which had already clinched the league's regular-season title.
"We battled the whole 40 minutes," Halford said. "All our guys battled together."
After trailing by 10 points in the second half, Gonzaga used a 20-11 run to pull to 71-70 on McClellan's free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining. After making the first attempt, McClellan tried to miss the second but it still swished through.
The Cougars inbounded the ball to Ryan Andrus, who was fouled immediately and made both free throws for a three-point lead with 1.5 seconds left.
Kyle Wiltjer's shot from beyond midcourt then bounced off the rim as time expired.
"It was beautiful, man," Halford said.
The win was BYU's first against an opponent ranked third or higher since beating No. 2 UCLA in November 1981.
Gonzaga was trying to become the first team to go through the WCC regular season undefeated since the league's recent expansion to 10 schools. The Bulldogs hadn't lost at home since being beaten by Illinois on Dec. 8, 2012.
"They came in here and, again, were just far more aggressive than we were," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Gonzaga, which leads the nation in field-goal shooting at 52.7 percent, was held to 43.9 percent. The Zags went 1 of 8 on 3-pointers in the second half.
"We didn't put up too much of a fight," McClellan said.
Halford pointed to the defense as a key to the win.
"It felt like every single person was mentally focused," Halford said.
BYU shot only 42.4 percent from the floor, but that was good enough.
"We didn't play that well offensively," said Collinsworth, who went 8 of 17 from the field. "We missed a lot of shots, but we stayed with it."
The score was tied 36-all at halftime, and BYU opened the second half with a 9-4 run.
Gonzaga made only five of its first 15 shots in the second half, and Tyler Haws scored seven consecutive points for the Cougars to extend the lead to 60-50.
Wesley's basket cut BYU's lead to 66-61 with 3:32 left before Collinsworth replied with a three-point play to push the lead back to eight.
Gary Bell Jr. made a 3-pointer that pulled Gonzaga to 69-64 with 1:52 left.
After a BYU turnover, Wesley was fouled on a drive and made both free throws to cut BYU's lead to three. The Cougars ran down the clock and Collinsworth scored on a putback to make it 71-66 with 14 seconds left.
"I tried to do everything I can to get that ball," Collinsworth said.
In the first, BYU jumped to an 11-2 lead as Gonzaga made just one basket in the first 6 minutes.
Gonzaga scored the final three baskets of the first half, with Pangos' short jumper tying the score at 36.
BYU: Haws, the reigning WCC player of the year, leads the league in scoring at 22.3 points per game and is the career scoring leader at BYU. He was held to 10 points. ... Coach Dave Rose has won 74.7 percent of his games in 10 seasons.
Gonzaga: It was senior night for the Zags, who honored Pangos, Bell and Wesley. ... Gonzaga won the WCC regular-season crown for the 14th time in 15 seasons. ... Pangos has started 133 of his 134 career games.
ON THE BOARDS
BYU outrebounded Gonzaga 41-39.
BYU: March 7 in the West Coast Conference tournament at Las Vegas.
Gonzaga: March 7 in the West Coast Conference tournament at Las Vegas.