Gonzaga blasts BYU, Cougars tourney hopes wither

Dave is not happy - USA TODAY Sports

Not a great day to be a Cougar.

Thankfully, the kids had already been put to sleep. The tenth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs blew out the BYU Cougars 83-63 on Thursday night in Spokane.

The Zags came out blazing from the opening tip and put the pressure on BYU in every facet. Last year, the Cougars shot just 30 percent from the field at McCarthey Arena. It was not much better on Thursday night as BYU hit on just 35 percent of its attempts, including a paltry 4-of-17 beyond the arc.

Tyler Haws, who came into the contest as the nation's seventh leading scorer, managed just 1 point and missed all nine shots he attempted from the field. The Gonzaga defense was physically imposing, hounding Haws at every turn. Haws was not alone in this regard, consistent double-teams sent at Brandon Davies forced turnovers and brought BYU's offense to a standstill. Credit Josh Sharp, who scored 14 points and provided more life than the rest of BYU's roster combined.

By halftime, the lead was 21 and the drama subdued. Credit Dave Rose for getting his squad to fight back in the second half as the Cougars cut the lead to as few 12 points with under 7:35 left in the contest. But, BYU simply was not clean enough, nor talented enough to come all the way back against such a terrific opponent.

Kelly Olynyk took 16 shots, eight from the field and eight from the free throw line; He made all of them. The consensus favorite for West Coast Conference Player of the Year was the best player on the floor as he impacted the game on both ends. Olynyk finished with 26 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Elias Harris was active and had his best game of the season scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The loss to Gonzaga adds an even deeper sting to BYU's loss to Saint Mary's. The Cougars simply have not beaten a tournament-caliber team all season and looked outclassed all night long. Sure, Gonzaga is a Top 10 squad and were favored by 10, but the difference between an elite team and a tournament-caliber team should not be so noticeable. Shy of an unexpected WCC Tourney title, BYU will need to beat Gonzaga and Saint Mary's over the last portion, and then one of them again in the WCC Tourney to have a chance at getting to the Big Dance.

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