PROVO, Utah – In the first half, No. 1 Gonzaga looked a lot like No. 5 Gonzaga in January and No. 11 Gonzaga back in November.
In the second half, Gonzaga was challenged and Nigel Williams-Goss responded.
The Zags took the suspense and a boisterous crowd of nearly 19,000 at the Marriott Center out of it early. BYU made several spirited rallies in the second half but Williams-Goss delivered clutch basket after clutch basket to lead GU to a hard-fought 85-75 victory.
Gonzaga, in its first game since moving to the top spot in both polls earlier this week, established a school record with its 23rd consecutive victory and remain Division I’s lone unbeaten team.
The Zags (23-0, 11-0 WCC) hold a one-game lead over Saint Mary’s.
Williams-Goss had four big baskets to help Gonzaga regain momentum after the Cougars had closed within 49-40 with 15:08 remaining. He finished with a game-high 33 points, his second highest output of the season.
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The Cougars (16-8, 7-4) refused to go away. TJ Haws, who scored 23 second-half points, led several BYU charges. His 3-pointer cut GU’s lead to 66-58 with 7:04 remaining.
BYU was within 70-62 when Williams-Goss drained a long 3-pointer.
The Cougars got as close as six, 76-70, but Williams-Goss connected four free throws.
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The Zags dominated the first half. They led 20-10 after consecutive 3-pointers by Josh Perkins.
The margin grew to 13 on another Perkins 3-pointer and 19 after Killian Tillie hit a pair of free throws. Tillie returned after missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle.
Gonzaga settled for a 42-26 halftime lead.
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