The Gonzaga Bulldogs continue to roll as they knocked off the BYU Cougars in convincing fashion. With the 92-69 win, the Bulldogs became the first team to reach 20 wins on the season and are now firmly in control of the West Coast Conference.
Killian Tillie led all scorers and had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds along with rock solid defense all night. Corey Kispert finished with 19 points, including a big second half, while the backcourt trio of Joel Ayayi (14 points), Admon Gilder (14 points), and Ryan Woolridge (11 points) all finished with double figures. Drew Timme put together a strong effort off the bench with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. TJ Haws (17 points) and Jake Toolson (16 points) were the only Cougars to score in double figures.
The teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes of the game, with both offenses firing early with the Cougars doing their damage inside of 15 feet while the Zags converted on a handful of looks from the arc thanks to some crisp ball movement.
While it’s good, BYU’s offense couldn’t quite keep up with the nation’s best attack. Gonzaga began to separate from the visitors midway through the opening half thanks to strong complementary basketball as the defense settled in and created more transition opportunities where the Zags have been deadly all year. The Zags also won the energy column as they collected eight offensive rebounds in the first half by beating the Cougars on the boards and to seemingly every loose ball.
If not for a stretch of sloppy play from Gonzaga to close out the first half and open the second half, BYU might have been at risk of getting blown out as it was in both games last season. But credit to the Cougars for continuing to work and stay in the game, which kept them within arm’s reach and in position to threaten the game if given the opportunity.
That opportunity almost materialized, as the Zags opened the second half with three turnovers in their first five possessions and then saw Petrusev leave the game with 15 minutes to go after rolling his right ankle while contesting a jump shot.
Petrusev’s injury seemed to snap the Zags out of their malaise, as they quickly stretched their lead back to a comfortable 12-point margin and restored the mood in The Kennel. Cue the inevitable TJ Haws warning from the referees and Gonzaga was off and running.
The Zags continued to dial up the aggression as the second half progressed, and the Cougars simply didn’t have the firepower to keep up. Even while down to six healthy bodies in the rotation, Gonzaga still had enough to put together a knockout punch of an offensive run that was highlighted by an Admon Gilder dunk that served as the nail in the coffin for this contest.
With this victory, Gonzaga set a new record for consecutive conference wins with 33. Long may the streak continue.