Provo • The magic returned to the Marriott Center on Thursday night, even if another sellout crowd and BYU’s shooting touch from 3-point range did not.
Pounding the ball inside instead of settling for long-range shots, the Cougars held off also-cold No. 24 Gonzaga 83-73 to snap their home-game losing skid at two in front of 19,257 fans.
“It was a great team win,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “Every player that went into the game tonight played with real urgency. ... It was a big win.”
And a big sigh of relief for the Cougars, who rebounded from Saturday’s 80-66 loss to league-leading Saint Mary’s by attacking the rim at every opportunity and freeing up point guard Matt Carlino, who flourished in the second half after sitting most of the first half with foul trouble.
Rose said the Cougars played more confidently than they have the past half-dozen or so games, and praised the crowd for giving the Cougars a lift after they stunk up the joint five days ago.
“I don’t think it ever left,” Carlino said of the team’s confidence after scoring 18 points and registering five assists. “I just think we attacked the basket more tonight, and that really helped us out.”
Noah Hartsock had a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds and Brandon Davies added 15 points inside as BYU handed Gonzaga its second league loss. The Cougars improved to 7-3 in West Coast Conference play, 19-6 overall, while the Zags fell to 7-2 and 17-14.
Also helping BYU’s cause was that Gonzaga was worse from 3-point range than the Cougars, going 3 of 19 from beyond the arc. And a couple of those came in the last few minutes, when the Zags were trying to overcome a 19-point second-half deficit.
“Our game plan was that we were really going to attack them defensively,” Rose said.
And that the Cougars did, forcing the Zags into 15 turnovers in the first half alone, and 19 in the game.
The Cougars played as well defensively as they have all season in the first half, and jumped to a 38-24 lead at the break.
“Give our coaches credit,” Hartsock said. “They got our minds ready for this game ... and the bench stepped in and really played well for us.”
Indeed, Damarcus Harrison had his best moment as a Cougar, scoring five straight points off the bench in the first half.
Rose started Anson Winder at the two-guard spot instead of Brock Zylstra — the first game all season that Zylstra has not started — and the freshman delivered. Winder had seven points, three assists and three rebounds in the first half alone and finished with 10 points.
“Ten big points,” Rose said, explaining that he started Winder because he felt the Cougars needed an offensive spark off the bench that injured sixth man Stephen Rogers (knee) used to provide, and Zylstra has the tools to do that.
“Our effort was extreme tonight,” Rose said.
Gonzaga rallied in the final minutes to make the score close, but it got just seven points from leading scorer Elias Harris, who took only three shots. Sam Dower led the Zags with 15 points off the bench.
The Cougars “responded well to a disappointment and got back on the right track,” Rose said.
Next up for BYU is a road game on Saturday (8 p.m. MST) at Portland.
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R In Short • BYU stays cold from the outside, but has enough inside to hold off Gonzaga at the Marriot Center.
Key Moment • After an 8-0 Gonzaga run midway through the second half, BYU answers with an 8-0 run of its own.
Key Stat • Gonzagashoots 3 of 19 from 3-point range.