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Spokane, Wash. • As shot after shot clanged off the rims for BYU and Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer looked unstoppable on the other end of the floor, coaches kept telling the Cougars that things were bound to turn as long as they worked hard on defense and kept the faith.

They were right.

Rallying from a 13-point second-half deficit, BYU stunned No. 25 Gonzaga 69-68 on Thursday night in front of 6,000 suddenly silent fans at McCarthey Athletic Center, repeating last year's upset that snapped the Zags' 41-game home winning streak.

"The theme of tonight was to stay in the present and stay positive," BYU senior Kyle Collinsworth said after leading the comeback with 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. "We knew we had to have a perfect effort, even if we didn't play perfectly."

Just like last year when BYU won 73-70, Thursday's game went down to the final seconds. After missing his first four 3-point attempts and having not scored the entire game, freshman Nick Emery nailed a 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining to give the Cougars a 69-67 lead.

The Cougars (13-5, 4-1 WCC) would not score again, but pulled it out thanks to their defense. After Wiltjer, who scored a season-high 35 points, missed a free throw with eight seconds left that would have tied it, Collinsworth came down with the rebound.

But he crashed to the floor with the ball, and was called for traveling. Given new life, Wiltjer drove to the paint with less than five seconds left, but his offering was swatted away by Nate Austin, and the Cougars had their second-straight win at the Kennel.

"I knew there were only a few seconds left and I had to [stop it]. It worked out well," Austin said with a shrug after the Cougars' seventh block. The sixth block came when Austin swatted away Eric McClellan's shot with 24.8 seconds left and into the hands of Chase Fischer.

Emery missed a free throw with 23.6 seconds left — BYU's first missed free throw after 12 straight makes — and Wiltjer went to the line for the fateful free throws moments later.

"A real character-building win for us where we can believe in our ability to win anywhere when it is not our best offensive night," said coach Dave Rose. "Guys have been shooting for this for a long time. This was a good win in a real defensive fashion that our guys can hang their hat on."

Gonzaga dropped to 5-1 in league play, 13-4 overall. For BYU, it will help the NCAA Tournament resume, but Rose talked after the game about staying focused on the league title chase.

With Collinsworth picking up his second foul nine minutes into the game and spending the rest of the first half on the bench, Gonzaga took a 36-32 halftime lead and then roared out of the break like it wanted to blow the Cougars out of the gym.

An 11-2 run gave the Zags a 47-34 lead and the Cougars looked cooked.

That's when Collinsworth took over the game, making a 3-point play, a steal and a fast break dunk, and several other big plays that put the Zags on their heels. When Fischer hit a 3-pointer with 8:33 left, the Cougars had trimmed the deficit to two. It was BYU's first made 3-pointer after 12 misses.

"We kept saying in the huddle, hey, 'this is going to turn. This is going to turn,'" Rose said. "Our guys just stayed with it."

Gonzaga built another five-point lead, but Collinsworth — a 15 percent 3-pointer shooter who hadn't made one since the Colorado game a month ago — nailed a trey with 3:45 remaining. Then Fischer scored five straight points, including a 3-point play on an inbounds pass from Collinsworth, who patted assistant coach Terry Nashif on the head after the play to thank him for drawing it up.

Sitting on the bench in the first half, Collinsworth told himself, "this could be a blessing in disguise, because I will be rested in the second half."

That he was.

The Zags started double-teaming him in the final minutes, and he found Emery for the big 3-pointer that proved to be the game-winner.

Rose said last year's win here when only Collinsworth, Fischer and Corbin Kaufusi played a role among players currently on the roster helped the Cougars to keep believing.

"I've never seen coach Rose get off the ground that high," Nate Austin said of the celebration in the locker room after the win.

Twitter: @drewjay —


R The Cougars pull off another improbable win at the Kennel, stunning the Zags with a massive second-half rally

* Kyle Wiltjer scores 35 points for GU, but misses a free throw with eight seconds remaining and the Zags trailing by a point

* BYU's Kyle Collinsworth scores 18 of his 20 points in the second half after missing most of the first half with foul trouble