While Gonzaga prepares for the national championship game tonight, they know a loss from BYU has helped them get to where they are now.
“It definitely helped us,” Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “There’s a process we have to winning, and we kind of deviated from it in that game. We’d been so used to crushing teams. In that game, we were up 18-2 early and we got away from what we did to get that lead. That made us realize if we don’t stick with the process, we’ll be in trouble.”
Back in the end of February, the Cougars beat the Bulldogs 79-71 to take down Gonzaga's perfect record this season. At the time, the Spokesman-Review, Gonzaga's hometown newspaper, was so confident about their team's victory over BYU they preemptively printed 6,000 copies of a special edition showcasing Gonzaga's victory. Unfortunately, a picture of the cover page was leaked on Twitter making the loss that more heartbreaking.
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But according to the Zags, it was just what they needed so they wouldn't mess up their goals of WCC champions and a national championship game.
“I thought it was good for us from the moment the buzzer went off,” guard Silas Melson said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “For one, we experienced the taste of losing. We don’t want to feel that, but it helps. I also don’t think the Sports gods respect undefeated teams. Wichita State went undefeated. Lost. Kentucky went undefeated. Lost. The Patriots went undefeated. Lost. Everybody is going to take an L eventually. I think ours came at the perfect time.”
While the Zags go the the national championship, one player won't be there with them. Josh Wade, a star player for Gonzaga, decided to serve a mission to Lyon, France, rather than play with his no. 1 ranked team in the NCAA tournament this year.
Thanks to Utah Valley 360 for making us aware of this story.