The Gonzaga Bulldogs faced the BYU Cougars Thursday night in The Kennel, where the final score ended in favor of the Bulldogs by a tally of 92-69.
Coming into this massive rivalry, the Zags (20-1, 6-0 West Coast Conference) were looking to build off of their dominating 104-54 win against the Santa Clara Broncos and to continue to streak of 11 consecutive victories.
BYU (14-6, 3-2 WCC) came into this matchup with a lot of momentum and vengeance. After blowing out the University of Portland 96-70 in Portland, the Cougars kept on rolling with a 93-70 win against the University of San Diego on the road. Senior guard TJ Haws finished the night with 19 points and three rebounds, making eight of 11 shots from the field and securing the win for the Cougars. Forward Kolby Lee shot perfect from the field, finishing with 21 points.
In the first half between GU and BYU, the game was going back and forth with the offensive display from both teams. The Cougars got off to a hot start with a pull-up jumper from Haws and a floater from guard Alex Barcello, but the Zags would respond with baskets from senior forward Killian Tillie and graduate transfer Admon Gilder Jr.
“When [Admon] is defending like that, really showing his athleticism and really showing athleticism like he did on the break … it makes us a different team,” head coach Mark Few said.
At the end of the first half, the Cougars shot 48.3% from the field compared to 44.1% for the Bulldogs. The Zags would win the 3-point battle in the first half, shooting 30.7% from behind the arc compared to 12.5% for the Cougars.
At the start of the second half, the Bulldogs would continue their dominant show on the offensive end. The Zags came out blazing from behind the 3-point arc, as junior forward Corey Kispert finished the night with 19 points, connecting on four of his seven attempts from behind the arc. The Zags would be moved and motivated by the energy of the crowd, which propelled them to a convincing victory.
“Our offense is good enough that if we keep moving the ball, someone is going to find themselves wide-open under the rim or wide-open for three, and just guys knock them down,” Kispert said.
For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs finished with five players in double digits Tillie led the way with 22 points, followed by Kispert’s 19 points, redshirt sophomore Joel Ayayi and Gilder with 14 each, with graduate transfer Ryan Woolridge finishing with 11 points.
The Bulldogs ended the night shooting 56.1% from the field and 42.9% from behind the arc compared to 50.9% from the field and 30.0% from behind the arc for BYU. Haws finished with 17 points for the Cougars followed by Toolson’s 16 points.
The Zags, however, would lose one of their better players, as sophomore forward Filip Petrusev went down with an ankle injury and did not return. It has not yet been determined as to whether he will be out the next few games.
“I hope it’s not that bad and he can come back with us, because we really need him this year,” Tillie said.
The Bulldogs will not play again until Jan. 25, where they will welcome the University of Pacific Tigers (15-5, 3-1) in The Kennel.
“Whenever we go out and play like that, we can play with anybody in the country, so it feels great to have a couple of days off and get back to the drawing board and get everybody healthy,” Gilder said.