Norvell, Hachimura lead No. 2 Gonzaga past BYU, 102-68
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Rui Hachimura had to think for a bit when asked how No. 2 Gonzaga was able to score with ease against BYU.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 25 points, Hachimura had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Perkins added 21 points and seven assists in the Bulldogs’ 102-68 victory over the Cougars Saturday night.
“I don’t know,” Hachimura initially said before mulling it over. “Just sharing the ball. Everybody can score. Just trusting each other.”
Brandon Clarke added 11 points and 10 rebounds in a win that cleared a path for Gonzaga to possibly be ranked No. 1 on Monday.
“Our defense is pretty good, too,” Hachimura said after the Bulldogs held BYU to 41.9 percent shooting.
It was senior night at Gonzaga, but Hachimura, a junior, declined to say if this was his final home game. He’s been projected as a first round NBA draft pick.
“I just love being here,” Hachimura said. “I love my coaches. I appreciate everybody.”
Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0) has won 18 in a row, the longest streak in the nation, and has already clinched the West Coast Conference regular-season title.
“It couldn’t have been scripted better,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We shared it and took great care of the ball. Our offense was clicking.
“We were able to string some stops together. … That’s when we made our separation.”
Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws each had 18 points for BYU (18-12, 10-5), which has lost two straight.
The Cougars trailed by 11 points when Gonzaga went on a late 23-3 run to ice the game.
“Our execution was not there at the end of the game,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “That’s two games in a row that have gotten away from us in the last seven or eight minutes.”
The Bulldogs won their seventh consecutive league title and will be the top seed at the conference tournament in Las Vegas next month.
“They’re doing a number on the rest of the conference this season,” Rose said.
Gonzaga made 10 of its first 13 shots to jump to a 23-15 lead. After BYU closed to 31-26, Norvell scored eight of Gonzaga’s next 10 points to push the lead to 41-28.
Gonzaga led 51-38 at halftime behind 18 points from Norvell and 57-percent shooting.
Perkins hit a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga up 58-44 early in the second.
BYU couldn’t cut that lead to single digits, in part because leading scorer Childs picked up his third and fourth fouls early in the second.
A 9-0 run lifted Gonzaga to a 73-53 lead with 10 minutes left.
The Cougars suffered through a 1-for-13 drought and Gonzaga extended the lead to 87-56 with just over 5 minutes left, capping a 23-3 run.
BYU was hampered by 15 turnovers, to only six for Gonzaga. The Cougars were outrebounded 40-31, and were outscored 46-30 in the paint.
CLARKE STARTS LATE
Clarke didn’t get going until late in the second half, but finished with a double-double. He and Hachimura have scored in double figures in all of Gonzaga’s games this season.
Gonzaga seeks to replace Duke at No. 1 on Monday, after the Blue Devils lost to No. 8 North Carolina on Wednesday before rebounding to win at Syracuse earlier Saturday.
BYU: Childs averages 21 points and Haws 17.8. … BYU is seeking its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015. … Childs, Haws and Nick Emery all have more than 1,000 career points.
Gonzaga: Gonzaga leads the nation in scoring at 90.3 points per game … The Bulldogs are outscoring WCC opponents by an average of 28 points.
BYU: Hosts San Diego in its regular-season finale Saturday night.
Gonzaga: Plays at Pacific on Thursday night and finishes the regular season Saturday night at Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs are trying to go undefeated in the league for the first time since 2013.
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