BYU basketball: Cougars knock off No. 25 Gonzaga, revive NCAA tournament at-large hopes
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — A week ago, after falling at lowly Pacific, BYU’s NCAA tournament at-large hopes were on the verge of flat-lining.
But those hopes have been revived in a big way.
The Cougars earned a dramatic 73-65 victory over No. 25 Gonzaga Thursday night before a crowd of 19,136 at the Marriott Center.
"We were fortunate to make a few more plays tonight," said coach Dave Rose. "It’s a big win, on the heels of another big win (at Saint Mary's last Saturday). It’s a good spot to be in right now.”
It was BYU’s first victory over a ranked team this season in five chances, and the Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. It marked just the second loss for Gonzaga in conference play in two years.
“The feeling is surreal," guard Anson Winder said of finally beating the Bulldogs. "You get the top-ranked team (in the conference) coming into your place and the crowd’s going crazy. We banded together and said, ‘We have nothing to lose.’ We go out and fight like that. The feeling is unreal.”
BYU improved to 19-10 overall and 11-5 in the West Coast Conference, while Gonzaga fell to 24-5 and 13-2.
In new roles, Winder and Eric Mika turned in impressive performances for the Cougars.
Rose shuffled his starting lineup, with Winder starting in place of Skyler Halford and Josh Sharp starting in place of Mika.
The move paid off for BYU.
Winder finished with a game-high 17 points, including 10 of 10 from the free-throw line, and Mika had 13 points and eight rebounds. Defensively, he helped limit Gonzaga star Kevin Pangos to 3 of 9 shooting and 13 points. Pangos hit six 3's and scored 24 points in last month's 15-point win in Spokane.
Meanwhile, Matt Carlino collected 15 points, including seven of the Cougars’ final nine points, and six assists. Tyler Haws had 12 points.
"Down the stretch, BYU did a good job of amping it up on the glass and really hurt us," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. "Definitely in that second half on the glass and getting to the free-throw line, I thought was pretty much the difference in the game."
BYU held Gonzaga to 4 of 18 shooting from 3-point territory. Gary Bell, Jr. was 3 of 11 from the floor, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range.
“The emphasis in practice was to guard the 3-point line," Winder said. "That’s how they beat us at their place, they got off a lot of threes.”
“I thought we did a way better job this time around staying with shooters," Rose said. "They really like to penetrate, then bring shooters back behind the penetration. The penetration is basically to try to get you sucked in. I thought our guards did a better job of staying out to shooters.”
"It hurt," Few said of his team's outside shooting woes. "Obviously they were dialed in. They were trying to chase Kevin (Pangos) and Gary (Bell) a little bit, but we still had some pretty good looks out there. Gary had a lot of good looks. We just didn’t knock them down. They did a good job of locating Kevin and staying in tune with him wherever he was and the other guys just missed them."
BYU forced 16 turnovers and scored 13 points off those turnovers. The Cougars outrebounded the Bulldogs, 41-32.
Rose said he first starting thinking about tinkering with his starting lineup after last Saturday's win at Saint Mary's.
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