SPOKANE, Wash. (ABC4 Sports) – Without Yoeli Childs, BYU had to play a near perfect game to take down the #1 team in the nation.
The Cougars did not, and Gonzaga pulled away for a 92-69 victory.
“Congratulations to Gonzaga,” BYU head coach Mark Pope said. “They played well tonight and are obviously the best team in America. Our guys are playing so hard and are putting their hearts and soul on the court. These guys are giving us everything so we will continue grinding away and get better everyday because that is what we have to do. It’s all about how we respond to this and we will respond well and we will keep pushing ahead.”
The consistent roar of the crowd caught the attention of Killian Tillie.
It was then that he realized how well Gonzaga was playing in the second half.
“I noticed we were making a lot of shots,” Tillie said. “Our energy was great.”
Tillie had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 1 Gonzaga beat BYU 92-69 on Saturday night for its 12th consecutive win.
The Zags (20-1, 6-0 West Coast) shot 74% (17 for 23) from the field after halftime. They stretched their home win streak to 34 in a row, tops in the county, and also became the first school to 20 wins this season.
Corey Kispert scored 19 points for Gonzaga, and Joel Ayayi and Admon Gilder had 14 apiece.
“We played great all weekend,” coach Mark Few said. “To hold (BYU) to 69 points is a great statement by our defense.”
Gonzaga closed out its sixth consecutive win against BYU without leading scorer Filip Petrusev, who went down hard early in the second half and was helped off the floor. Few said it appears to be an ankle sprain.
It was unclear how long Petrusev might be out.
“It’s part of the game,” Few said. “We’ve got to keep playing.”
T.J. Haws scored 17 points and Jake Toolson had 16 for BYU (14-6, 3-2).
The Cougars played without leading scorer and rebounder Childs, who has missed four games with a finger injury. Childs averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“They picked up the pace in the second half and we weren’t able to respond,” Pope said. “Yoeli still has some healing to do, but in the meantime we have to find ways to win games.”
Pope said Haws, who added six assists, had a great game.
“He was making things happen for us tonight,” Pope said. “He’s a really special player.”
Ryan Woolridge made a 3-pointer and Joel Ayayi sank two free throws to help Gonzaga open a 59-45 lead with 11 minutes left. Kispert’s 3-pointer pushed Gonzaga’s lead out to 71-55.
Few was an assistant coach at Gonzaga during Pepperdine’s run, and he remembers those as great teams.
“But they were never carrying a No. 1 ranking,” Few said. “We get everybody’s best effort.”
The Cougars only attempted 10 free throws, sinking five. Gonzaga made 19 of 25 free throws.