Gonzaga stretched its home-court winning streak to 22 games as the guard trio of Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and David Stockton combined for 52 points and 17 assists in an 84-69 victory over BYU on Saturday.
Read on for my day-after post.
—There are always 6,000 in the McCarthey Athletic Center, but the building has a different ambiance when there are 1,200 amped-up students. The crowd was electric Saturday for the first time this season, thanks in part to a lack of marquee non-conference opponents and an odd WCC schedule that resulted in a four-game homestand to open conference when students were on holiday break
The Zags gave them plenty to get loud about.
“I knew it was going to be loud, but one play when Przemek (Karnowski) got a rebound in the second half it pretty much blew my eardrum because it was so loud,” Bell said. “That was the loudest I’ve ever heard it.”
—Gonzaga made 50 percent of its shots and scored 35 points in the first half. Good numbers, but the Bulldogs’ efficiency soared in the second half, particularly against BYU’s zone. The result: 49 points on 64.3-percent shooting.
“We got more aggressive,” Few said. “I call it ‘Ring around the Rosie’, we were just moving it around the perimeter (in the first half) and David was only one that was really punching it in there and making plays. Kevin started hunting shots – he wasn’t hunting shots (in the first half) – and had his feet ready. And we were able to find the bigs in the second half. We didn’t have quite as much foul trouble.”
Stockton did it all in the first half. His first basket came when he drove the baseline and at the last second dropped in a reverse layup, fooling BYU’s interior defense into believing he was going to dish or just keep dribbling away out of the paint. He buried a 3-pointer. He pierced the zone for a floater later in the half.
In the second half, he tricked BYU’s Frank Bartley on another baseline drive. Stockton seemed be running out of options so Bartley left the low block for the corner in anticipation of a kick-out pass. Instead, Stockton flipped the ball to Dower underneath for an easy bucket.
“He definitely was the catalyst,” Dower said, “keeping us in the game. He made big plays, big shots. He was everywhere.”
—GU got worked over on the offensive boards in the first half as BYU used 10 second-chance points to stay within striking distance. The Zags battled on even terms on the glass in the second half, which enabled them to stretch their lead.
“They had a big edge,” coach Mark Few said. “They are a great rebounding team, and we were going with our smaller lineup a lot and they were taking advantage of that. (Kyle) Collingsworth is a really good rebounder and he’s got one of our guards on him and that was the problem. But the second half we shored it up.”
‘We’ is accurate because it took all hands, including the guards. Karnowski led GU with five boards. After that, it was four by Pangos and Bell, three by Drew Barham and two by Kyle Dranginis and Stockton.
Sam Dower, who scored 18 points, swatted two shots in the first half but the Cougars were able to retrieve the ball and score anyway. Dower finished with just one rebound, of the offensive variety, late in the second half.
“The coaches tell us and then we huddle up when get our little chances and we say, ‘We’ve got to get rebounds, man, we’ve got to do whatever we can to get rebounds,’ ” Dower said. “We ended up doing that.”
Dower, by the way, isn’t quite at 100 percent after his lower back injury, but he’s obviously feeling better. He said he’s still regaining some of his explosiveness.
STATS OF NOTE
—Pangos was 5 of 5 on 3s in the second half.
—Gonzaga made all 12 of its free throws, but BYU got to the line 21 times (making 15). San Diego had 11 more free throw attempts than GU on Thursday.
—Barham is 24 of 54 on 3s in conference play, a 54.5-percent clip. He was 2 of 4 on 3s vs. BYU.
—The final tally of second-chance points: BYU 14, GU 2.
—BYU led only once, 6-4.
Bell on defending Haws, who had 23 points and four turnovers: “It’s definitely hard because he’s coming off so many screens. If you’re trailing him, he’s going to get a shot. If you’re close to him, he’s going to get fouled and he makes all his free throws so he’s a tough guard.”
Few: “We had to battle for 40 minutes to get that one.”
Dower on being 8-1 midway through WCC play: “We’re feeling really good, confident. We have our full team back.”
BYU coach Dave Rose, on his team’s effort after a triple-overtime loss to Portland on Thursday: “We got a lot of 50-50 balls in the first half, outrebounded them, a lot of hustle stats that the guys did a good job with. As the game wore on, we got heavy legs and we didn’t shoot the ball real well on the perimeter. But defensively was the key. We let it get away.”
Dower on BYU freshman forward Eric Mika (12 points, nine rebounds): “He’s strong, he rebounded … but we made our adjustments the second half and made it tough for him. We tried not to let him get the easy touches that he got in the first half.”