BYU Sports

BYU basketball: Mika, Haws lead Cougars to epic upset of No. 1, undefeated Gonzaga

First Published      Last Updated Feb 26 2017 03:07 am

TJ Haws had some interesting comments after scoring 17 points and making 5 of 9 3-point attempts, some of them from NBA range, in BYU's stunning 79-71 win over No. 1-ranked and previously undefeated Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Asked what the win means to the 21-10 Cougars, who finished in third place in the WCC, exactly where they were picked, Haws said it was huge and wonderful and all that other stuff.

Then he offered a glimpse at perhaps why BYU doesn't play this well every time out on the road in the WCC.

"It shows we gotta come in and treat [every game] like this game, and treat it like it is a huge game," Haws said. "This conference is a tough conference. There are good teams that are capable of knocking down big shots and capable of getting going a little bit. So we got to come out each game ready to go."

The Cougars didn't do that at San Diego, Pepperdine or Santa Clara, and they suffered embarrassing losses at all those places. Can you imagine what the Toreros, Waves and Broncos are thinking tonight?

Hey, we beat those guys — and badly, in the case of the Toreros and Waves.

"Obviously, we didn't win the conference title. They still got that locked up. They had a heckuva season and they are going to have a heckuva postseason," Eric Mika said of Gonzaga. "But it gives us confidence. It kinda just solidifies that belief that we have in ourselves coming into games like this that we can do things that are special and we got something to back it up now."

Next weekend's WCC Tournament just got a whole lot more interesting. It won't be the Gonzaga coronation like everyone — except possibly Saint Mary's — expected. BYU exposed the Zags (29-1), who wilted down the stretch of their first close game since December.

Perhaps most surprising was that GU committed 16 turnovers, missed 13 of 29 free throws, and was just 3 of 16 from 3-point range. That 18 percent shooting from deep was GU's worst performance from there since March 27, 2015 against UCLA.

After scoring 33 points against BYU in Provo, Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss was a middling 7 of 17 from the field, 0 of 3 from 3-point range, and finished with 19 points. He had four turnovers.

"He is a tough guy to guard," said Haws. "One of the things we focused on coming into this game was staying in front of our guys. Nigel, when the game gets going and it is time to make a play, he is always the guy who makes the play. Again, I thought it was a good team effort on defense. That helped us a lot."

Where does this victory rank in coach Dave Rose's career? He deflected that question, but it was clear from his post game comments that it is near the top, right up there with the win over Gonzaga that got the Cougars to the Sweet 16 Jimmer Fredette's senior year and the one here two years ago that ended GU's 41-game home winning streak.

Mika called it "the best game of my life as far as the atmosphere and just being with the team I love and finally clicking on all cylinders and playing our game. You can't beat that."

Somehow, Rose instilled the confidence in his team that it had the capability of winning this game, amazing considering the Cougars looked awful just a week ago in losing 70-57 at home to Saint Mary's.

"I think all of us [believed], and that is a big thing," Mika said. "I don't think a lot of teams in our conference believe 100 percent that they are going to come in and do that. … But all week, we were saying, hey, no matter where we've been, no matter what we've done this season, we are sticking together. We are going to have a game plan and we are going to believe we can go in there and do something special, and that's what we did."

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