When you’re in a zone, you sometimes feel like you can’t miss anything you throw up at the basket. Kelly Olynyk was in a very special zone on Thursday night leading the Gonzaga Bulldogs over the BYU Cougars when he didn’t miss a single shot and was perfect from the free-throw line as well. Not surprisingly, the Zags coasted to a 20-point win with that effort.
In what was billed as a West Coast Conference showdown between two of the top teams trying to bounce back from bitterly disappointing buzzer-beating losses in the last week. Gonzaga traveled to face the Butler Bulldogs and got edged by a point at the buzzer while BYU suffered an even tougher loss against the Saint Mary’s Gaels. After taking the lead with under 10 seconds to play on a tough runner in the lane, the Cougars had their hearts broken by Matthew Dellavedova hitting a running three-pointer just past half-court to stun the Provo home crowd.
Gonzaga, however, looked like the only team that wasn’t suffering a hangover from the tough losses. The Zags jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. At the half, BYU had just 21 points as a team while Olynyk combined with Elias Harris for 28 points by themselves as they elevated Gonzaga to a 40-21 lead. They didn’t let up in the second half, finishing the game strong and winning by a final score of 83-63.
The Zags were led by the dynamic duo of Olynyk and Harris, who dominated from start to finish. They combined for 51 points and 19 rebounds, led by Olynyk’s 26 points and Harris’ double-double as he snagged 10 rebounds. Olynyk finished the game a perfect 9-for-9 from the field, hitting from all over the floor while finishing 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. The senior Harris was a constant thorn in BYU’s side, snagging four offensive rebounds and getting to the free-throw line 13 times.
BYU, meanwhile, watched their stars go ice cold on the night. Tyler Haws, who entered the game as the leading scorer in the WCC, left the McCarthey Athletic Center with a single point, finishing 0-for-9 from the field. The Bulldogs defense constantly challenged BYU’s shooters, blocking five shots on the night.
While many worried about the hangover effect Gonzaga might suffer after the tough loss to Butler, Mark Few had his team ready to take care of business at home Thursday night. Olynyk put the exclamation point with his perfect night as the Zags renewed their dominance over the WCC and staked a claim to be the best team on the West Coast.