Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the country, going for an undefeated 30-0 regular season, and was up 18-2 against BYU at home on Senior Night. And yet, BYU found a way to win, stunning Gonzaga, 79-71, on Saturday.
“It was a special night,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Our guys deserved to win, we played well, we hung in there, we got down 18-2 and they were playing so well.”
BYU is now 4-7 in its last 11 games against Gonzaga. The rest of the West Coast Conference is 4-66 over that same time period.
“I just feel like the timing has been good for us,” Rose said. “The three times we’ve been up here, it was Senior Night a couple of years ago when they were 17-0 in league. Do you know how hard it is to go undefeated in league and go undefeated at home? It is really hard. You ask any coach about that who’s been through it, and those games – you look at Bill Self last night trying to win a Senior Night at home. There’s some interesting things about certain situations in this game with young guys, college kids. So the timing’s been good.”
Sophomore Eric Mika had a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds against Gonzaga, while freshman TJ Haws drilled five three-pointers and finished with 17 points.
“We (had) some individual guys that stepped up,” Rose said.
BYU, despite trailing by 16 early, trailed by just six at halftime.
“That was the majority of what we talked about (at halftime),” Rose said. “We just dominated these guys on their home floor for the last eight minutes of the half. Let’s go do it. We can do that.”
They did – and now the Cougars (21-10) are hoping to dance their way into March. BYU plays Loyola Marymount (15-14) in the WCC Tournament this Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
“For us, I think we understand that we’ve got to win three games to have a real legitimate shot of getting into the tournament,” Rose said. “I just feel really confident in our guys. Hopefully we can win. If we can win our way in, we’ll have a great start to March.”
The game will be played in Las Vegas. It will be BYU’s sixth neutral-site game of the season.
“It’s hard in our position to get guy to want to play a home-and-home series,” Rose said. “We’ll go their place, but eventually they got to come back here, and that’s not really appealing. It’s appealing to the guy scheduling. It’s not appealing to the head coach when he takes it to him. So we get a lot of almosts. . . . We try to play as many home games as we can, but we play a lot of neutral-court games, a lot of road games, in the preseason.”