SPOKANE — Thursday was National Gonzaga Day, and the Gonzaga basketball team celebrated in style with a dominant, 83-63 victory over Brigham Young.
Talented Gonzaga big men Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris dominated the smaller Cougars inside to key the win before the standard sellout crowd of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Olynyk, continuing his progress from little-used reserve two years ago to NBA prospect, did not miss a shot as he scored a game-high 26 points.
The 7-foot redshirt junior from Kamloops, B.C., went 9-for-9 from the field, 8-for-8 at the free throw line, grabbed nine rebounds and added five assists, one blocked shot and one steal in 31 minutes.
“He’s a great player,” understated BYU’s Josh Sharp.
Harris piled up 25 points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots, one assist and one steal in 33 minutes for the 10th-ranked Bulldogs. Harris went 8-for-11 from the field and 9-for-13 at the line.
Olynyk and Harris, Gonzaga’s two leading scorers for the season, outscored BYU scoring leaders Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies 28-2 in the first half and 51-15 for the game.
Davies scored 12 of his 14 points after BYU fell behind 40-21 at the half. Haws, the West Coast Conference scoring leader coming into the game with 21.6 points per game, went 0-for-9 from the field and 1-for-2 at the line.
“They were chasing him around all night, not letting get anything easy at all,” Sharp said.
Sharp scored a career-high 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, but BYU shot just 35.6 percent from the field on a night when Gonzaga shot a sizzling 56.9 percent (29-for-51). The Zags also went 19-for-23 (82.6 percent) from the line.
The win kept Gonzaga (18-2 overall, 5-0 West Coast Conference) in first place. BYU (15-6, 5-2) dropped to third.
Kevin Pangos had 12 points and three steals for the Zags. BYU’s Matt Carlino had 11 points and four steals.
BYU went nearly 5 minutes, 30 seconds without scoring while Gonzaga went on a 12-0 run to take a 36-14 lead with two minutes to go before halftime. The Cougars were 0-for-5 from the field with two turnovers during the drought.
The 21-point first half was the lowest-scoring half of the season for BYU.
“Offensively, we just could get going in the first half,” Sharp said. “They were very physical, and you have to learn to work through that. We got some shots that normally fall down, they just didn’t.”
The Gonzaga dressing room was closed to the media for an extended period after the game, but the Bulldogs let their play do all the talking. Gonzaga had a 37-29 rebounding edge.
Haws started the day ranked seventh in the nation in scoring.
Gonzaga was second in the nation in field-goal shooting percentage at 51.2, trailing only Creighton (51.5). Gonzaga was eighth in scoring (79.4) and BYU was 16th (78.3).