BYU quickly snatched its opportunity with an incredible win over Gonzaga, playing a physical and aggressive game that ultimately left the Cougars with a satisfactory 73-65 victory.
The huge win for the Cougars is the perfect quality win, as it not only shattered their losing streak against Gonzaga but gives them a great position and confidence heading into the WCC conference tournament in Las Vegas and the NCAA tournament.
“This win just shows our toughness. We are a tough team, and we love to win,” said Anson Winder, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Winder had a career night, sinking all 10 of his free-throws, including 8-for-8 in the second half. Coming onto the court in a new role after head coach Dave Rose changed the starting lineup, Winder quickly adjusted and found his rhythm, barreling to the top and becoming a key player in the Cougars’ defense, holding Gonzaga’s hot shooter Kevin Pangos to just 13 points for the night.
“Anson was good. Anson was really good tonight, and he responded really well (to the change),” Rose said. “He drives it, scores it, hits a big three, hits 10 free-throws, all of which was a big lift for us.”
Carlino also had a big night, scoring 15 points and working as a huge push for the team off the bench. He worked through the physical game, producing three steals and making two three-point shots, baskets that were not heavily prevalent in the game but still boosted the score as time went on.
Tyler Haws and Eric Mika were the other two top scorers, Mika producing 13 points and Haws a surprisingly low 12.
Holding Gonzaga to just 4-18 shooting in three-point territory proved to be BYU’s secret weapon in taking down the Bulldogs, a move the Cougars pulled of so effortlessly that, in the end, it really paved the way to their win.
“The emphasis in practice was to guard the three-point line,” Winder said. “That’s how they beat us at their place; they got a lot of threes.”
Gonzaga felt the pressure BYU was putting on when it came to outside shooting. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few recognized it as the team’s demise to the Cougars.
“It hurt,” Few said. “We just didn’t knock them down. They did a good job of locating Kevin and staying in tune with him wherever he was, and the other guys just missed them.”
Covering the three-point line was not the only trick BYU had up their sleeve in this huge win. They forced 16 turnovers, scoring 13 points off those shifts in possession as well as overshadowed the Bulldogs in rebounds, 41-32.
Overall, the Cougars set the tone of the game, giving Gonzaga hardly any control throughout either half. The win moves BYU forward to 19-10 overall and 11-5 in the WCC, leaving Gonzaga to fall to 23-5 overall and 13-2 in conference play.