PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Technically, BYU and Gonzaga are in the same league, the West Coast Conference.
But judging by Thursday night’s 93-63 beatdown over the Cougars, these two teams really are not in the same league.
The 4th-ranked Bulldogs got 23 ponts from Brandon Clarke and 20 from Rui Hachimura, as Gonzaga handed BYU its first 30-point loss at home in the Dave Rose era.
The Bulldogs shot a blistering hot 58.7 percent from the field, while holding the Cougars to just 36.7 percent shooting.
“Gonzaga played really aggressive and they executed well,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We had a hard time on both sides of the ball. We started off with a nice steal and a couple pretty good defensive stops in the first minute or two, but we just had a hard time trying to convert. I think that hurt our confidence, but the guys hung in there pretty good and battled back.”
TJ Haws led the Cougars with 16 points, while Zac Selaas added 13. Leading scorer Yoeli Childs made just 3 of 12 shots for 12 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out.
Led by Zach Norvell, Jr. and Corey Kispert, Gonzaga took control early with a 17-2 run. BYU cut the deficit to 5 on a 3-pointer by Jahshire Hardnett, who had four points after missing the last five games with a hand injury.
But Gonzaga went on a 10-0 run to take a 41-24 lead into the half.
The Cougars got as close as 13 points in the second half, but Gonzaga turned it on again, blowing the game open.
Kim Tillie drained a 3-pointer, and Hachimura followed with back-to-back layups to stop the Cougars from getting any closer. Gonzaga eventually built an 87-57 lead with 4:08 left after Kispert, Clarke and Geno Crandall combined to help the Bulldogs make five straight baskets over a three-minute stretch.
“Early on we got good looks but we just didn’t make shots that we usually make,” Haws said. “I thought right out of the gate we were locked in. I thought we were ready to go at the start.”
“It was a good atmosphere,” said BYU guard Connor Harding. “I just wish we would have made the plays we needed to make. Obviously, we put ourselves in situations where we could have had easy layups or shots. Overall it was rough, but we can bounce back. We are just glad there is a game on Saturday.”
The win was Gonzaga’s 28th straight conference road victory.
BYU (13-10, 5-3 WCC) next hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday.