"You got to give them credit," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "They did a really good job, played a really good game."
Bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss at Butler last Saturday, the Bulldogs improved to 5-0 in WCC play, 18-2 overall and dominated the Cougars from the opening tip. Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field, and was 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.
His sidekick inside, Elias Harris, added 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting as the Zags shot 56.9 percent and held the Cougars to 35.6 percent.
The Cougars fell to 5-2 and 15-6, losing to the WCC kingpins for the third straight time by 10 points or more. It was never really close just like last year in the WCC semifinals, when Gonzaga pummeled BYU 77-58 in Las Vegas.
The Zags rolled out to a 40-21 lead at halftime when a national television audience presumably still cared, and coasted in the final 20 minutes.
"Offensively, I think we struggled with their size and how physical the game was early," Rose said. "Probably would have maybe responded a little bit better if the way the game was called in the second half was called in the first half. We got 17 free throws in the second half. I think we shot 4 of 5 in the first half."
BYU's Tyler Haws, the leading scorer in the WCC with a 21.6 average, did not score until 7:35 remained in the game and finished with just one point. He was 0 for 9 from the field.
"They did a good job guarding him," Rose said. "They were really physical with him. It was tough to get the ball to him where he is comfortable. Every catch he made was in a spot where it was just a little bit out of where he likes, and the rhythm he likes to be in."
Credit the Cougars for making things mildly interesting in the second half. Haws' free throw cut the deficit to 64-52 and did just enough to keep the crowd of 6,000 from heading to the exits.
But Olynyk scored two quick baskets inside to pretty much end the uprising.
"Between Harris and Olynyk, they just had a fantastic game," Rose said. "They were really, really good."
Gonzaga never trailed, jumping out to a quick 11-3 lead before the Cougars could find any sort of rhythm.
Haws went 0 for 6 in the first half. Brandon Davies had just two points in the first half, while picking up just as many fouls. He had a better second half, finishing with 14 to match the output by Josh Sharp.
"I think what was encouraging was our guys didn't quit," Rose said. "They continued to fight, and they battled, and there's a lot more basketball to be played.
"Obviously, our guys were emotionally down, because we were struggling and they were kind of dominating us. The fact that we stayed in there and hung in there [says a lot]. We played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half. Hopefully we can build on that and move forward."
The Cougars seemingly recovered after the horrible start, but a three-point play by Harris gave the Zags a 24-12 lead.
BYU's lone bright spot in the first half was Sharp, who scored 10 points in the first half and finished with 14. Finding the going rough inside against the 7-foot Olynyk, Davies was 5 for 13 from the field.
"I take the blame," Davies said. "I had a lot of opportunities to make plays and just didn't."
O IN SHORT • BYU is no match for No. 10 Gonzaga on its home floor, losing 83-63 in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
KEY MOMENT • BYU's Tyler Haws goes 0 for 6 in the first half and fails to score until 7:35 remains in the game.
KEY STAT • The Cougars are 1 for 10 from 3-point range in the first half.
Gonzaga 83, BYU 63
BYU (15-6) • Davies 5-13 4-5 14, Sharp 5-6 4-6 14, Carlino 4-11 2-2 11, Zylstra 1-6 3-3 6, Haws 0-9 1-2 1, Austin 4-5 0-0 9, Winder 2-8 1-2 6, Cusick 0-1 2-2 2, Kaufusi 0-0 0-0 0, Ambrosino 0-0 0-0 0, Delgado 0-0 0-0 0. Totals • 21-59 17-22 63.
GONZAGA (18-2) • Olynyk 9-9 8-8 26, Harris 8-11 9-13 25, Pangos 4-9 0-0 12, Bell, Jr. 2-10 0-0 5, Hart 2-2 0-0 5, Stockton 1-1 2-2 4, Barham 1-3 0-0 2, Karnowski 1-3 0-0 2, Edi 1-1 0-0 2, Dower 0-2 0-0 0, Dranginis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals • 29-51 19-23 83.
HalftimeGonzaga 40-21. 3-Point GoalsBYU 4-17 (Zylstra 1-2, Austin 1-2, Winder 1-4, Carlino 1-7, Sharp 0-1, Haws 0-1), Gonzaga 6-18 (Pangos 4-8, Hart 1-1, Bell, Jr. 1-6, Harris 0-1, Barham 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBYU 29 (Davies 6), Gonzaga 37 (Harris 10). AssistsBYU 9 (Carlino 4), Gonzaga 17 (Olynyk 5). Total FoulsBYU 20, Gonzaga 18. A6,000.