PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Gonzaga is still the only unbeaten team in the country.
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 33 points and No. 1 Gonzaga won it’s 23rd straight game with an 85-75 victory over BYU at the Marriott Center Thursday night.
Gonzaga was the first top-ranked team ever to play BYU in Provo.
“That’s a good team,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “I think our guys competed hard, especially when they weren’t individually playing their best at times. No matter how discouraged they got, they continued to compete and play hard. That’s a good sign, especially for a young team. I’m glad we got it close in the second half because it looked in the first half like it might get away from us.”
The Bulldogs (23-0, 11-0 West Coast Conference) now have the longest winning streak in school history. They entered the night with the No. 12 scoring offense in the nation and looked like it.
Gonzaga took a 42-26 lead after dominating the first half. The Bulldogs used a 20-4 stretch early to put BYU in a deep hole.
TJ Haws did the heavy lifting during the BYU rally, as the Cougars got within six at one point, and finished with a career-high 29 points.
“Coach talked about competing on every possession all week,” Haws said. “I’m proud of how we kept coming back when we got down. This team is getting better every single game. We showed tonight that we can compete with anyone.”
But The Cougars (16-8, 7-4) had no answer early for the 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski. Gonzaga ran the offense through the big man while building a 17-point lead and BYU was left to pick its poison. Karnowski would drop in a hook when left 1-on-1 against a defender, before the Cougars started sending help. Then Karnowski would kick it out and the Zags repeatedly found open shooters for 3-pointers.
Gonzaga shot 51.9 percent from the field and knocked down 6 of 10 3-pointers in the first half while BYU hit 32.3 percent of its shots, including a 1-for-7 effort from behind the arc.
Williams-Goss took over in the second half as BYU cut the lead to single digits. The junior point guard scored 11 straight points while blowing past defenders during a 13-3 run to push the lead back to 18 points. He had the answer every time BYU got close and was three points shy of his season high.
BYU leading scorer Eric Mika struggled on offense, making just 5 of 15 shots for 15 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
Nick Emery, who was battling an illness and did not start, made scored just two points, and had his school record 3-pointer streak end at 32 in a row.
“They competed,” Rose said about his team. “Especially when they weren’t individually playing their best at times. No matter how discouraged they got, they continued to compete and play hard. That’s a good sign, especially for a young team. I’m glad we got it close in the second half because it looked in the first half like it might get away from us.”
The Cougars next host Portland on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.