Kyle Wiltjer tallied a game-high 24 points and five rebounds and Kevin Pangos had 21 points, 18 coming in the second half, to lead Gonzaga to a 87-80 win over BYU on Saturday to start conference play off 1-0.
BYU attacked the basket, got to the free-throw line (27 made free throws) and the high octane Cougar offense attributed to a tie ball game at the midway intermission and led for just around 10 minutes of the second half. Down 55-49 with 15:29 to go, the Bulldogs went on a 14-6 run, 11 of the points coming from Pangos, and the Zags held the lead for the remaining nine minutes. The Cougars battled back to bring the score within three with 1:33 left in the game, but the Zags closed out behind five-straight points, which became insurmountable for BYU.
Byron Wesley added a game-changing 15 points (five coming in the final minutes) and 10 rebounds, Przemek Karnowski added nine points and 10 rebounds and Silas Melson chipped in seven points and a highlight baseline dunk for the Zags (12-1). Pangos had a season-high five 3-pointers.
An injured Tyler Haws led BYU with 17 points and four boards, Kyle Collinsworth notched a triple-double with 13 points, 10 boards and 10 assists and Anson Winder added 17 points for the Cougars (10-4).
The MVP: Kevin Pangos
Pangos, with one shy of a season-high 21 points (all of which came in the second half WHEN IT MATTERED MOST) and a game-high 7 assists was nothing short of excellent, game-changing and in all-american form. His 18 second-half points solely regained control, hold on to win in a jam-packed arena larger than NBA stadiums and move past its tallest order on the conference play docket.
With a quick two-day turnaround, the Zags travel directly to San Diego to face Johnny Dee and the 7-6 Toreros on Monday, Dec. 29.