It was a one-two punch offensively with Kelly Olynyk (26 points) and Elias Harris (25).
It was a one-two-three-four-five punch on defense as Gonzaga held BYU to 63 points, 15 under its season average, and 35.6-percent shooting. The Bulldogs' Gary Bell Jr. (on BYU's Tyler Haws, who had 1 point, 20 below his average) and Elias Harris (on Brandon Davies, who had 14 points, 4 under his average) were outstanding defensively, and they had a lot of help from their teammates.
The Bulldogs rolled to an 83-63 victory Thursday at the MAC to remain unbeaten in WCC play at 5-0. Saint Mary's is in second place at 5-1. BYU dropped to 5-2.
My unedited game story is below. I'll be back with a day-after post in the a.m.
By Jim Meehan
A convincing case could be made that Gonzaga’s defense paved the way for an 83-63 men’s basketball victory over BYU on Thursday night.
Then again, the same could be said for the Bulldogs’ offense, powered by the 51 combined points of forwards Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs (18-2, 5-0 WCC) dominated at both ends of the floor in front of 6,000 at the
Olynyk didn’t miss a shot – 9 of 9 field goals, 8 of 8 free throws – en route to 26 points. Harris made 8 of 11 field goals, 9 of 13 free throws and finished with a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. Olynyk had nine boards and a team-high five assists. Gonzaga made 57 percent of its shots, its highest of the season against a D-I opponent.
“My teammates gave me the ball where my strength is and that’s a great team effort,” Harris said. “It takes a great team to recognize scenarios like that.”
Harris was equally effective at the defensive end, limiting BYU forward Brandon Davies to two first-half points. Davies finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
“I thought ‘E’ was special tonight,” GU coach Mark Few said. “When he plays with that kind of effort and he’s that bouncy and he plays that athletic, he’s a special, special player.”
Sophomore guard Tyler Haws, BYU’s leading scorer at 21.6 points per game, had a miserable night operating against the defense of Gary Bell Jr. and the Bulldogs’ alert help defense. Haws finished 0 of 9 from the field and scored his only point on a free throw with 7:35 left in the second half. Haws, who had a 42-point game against Virginia Tech, had been in double figures in 19 of BYU’s previous 20 games.
“I just tried to limit his touches,”
Gonzaga took control early, bolting in front 21-10 after Harris’ basket in the lane. A 12-0 run hiked the Zags’ lead to 36-14 before they settled for a 40-21 edge at half.
The Bulldogs were cruising at 57-35, but BYU started cutting into the lead with a trapping, extended zone defense that forced numerous GU turnovers. Davies heated up offensively and the Cougars pulled within 12 with 7:35 left.
Olynyk made a pair of field goals and then the 7-footer fed Harris and
BYU, which shoots 46 percent from the field and averages 78.3 points per game, made just 35.6 percent, including 4 of 17 3-pointers (23.5 percent).
“Easily our best defensive effort of the season,” Few said. “We were high energy, we were physical, covering for each other, blocking shots at the rim, rebounding, only giving them one-and-out. We ended up with 42 deflections, which is a huge number.”
Kevin Pangos made four of Gonzaga’s six 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Led by Harris and Olynyk, the Bulldogs outscored BYU 42-28 in points in the paint.
“They’re both great players, both all-league guys and you’ve got to give them credit,” Davies said. “It was a real physical game throughout; they just continued to battle. And they’re deep as well. They have bigs that can come in and hold heir own. That’s what good teams have.”