Mark Few has had many remarkable runs in his 28 years at Gonzaga, including a streak of 21 straight appearances in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
But the 18-year Gonzaga coach has never seen a run quite like the one that transpired Tuesday against Brigham Young that paved the way for the Bulldogs’ dominant 74-54 victory to seal a sixth consecutive WCC tournament title before an announced crowd of 8,030 at Orleans Arena.
“That’s probably as good a run as I ever been a part of in 28 years I’ve been at Gonzaga,” said Few, whose program has won 17 WCC tournament crowns.
Gonzaga (30-4) went on a 38-6 run during a 14-minute stretch that spanned between the two halves. The Bulldogs went up 32 points in the second half.
“I’ve heard so many numbers thrown out,” Few said about the run. “Fantastic defense that led to great offense. We were sharing, making quick decisions, moving the ball, finding each other and playing together. It was a thing of beauty.”
BYU, the No. 3 seed, came out swinging with star forward Yoeli Childs leading the charge against top seed Gonzaga.
The Cougars and Bulldogs were tied at 27-27 with 2:55 left before halftime. That’s when the memorable run started as BYU was held scoreless during the first five minutes of the second half.
Killian Tillie scored a game-high 22 points for the Bulldogs and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. The sophomore forward from France averaged 24 points throughout the tournament and shot 78 percent from the field. He made 13 of 14 3-pointers in the three victories.
“My point guard keeps telling me to shoot it,” Tillie said about teammate Josh Perkins. “I’m feeling very confident right now.”
Along with Tillie, Gonzaga senior forward Johnathan Williams was named to the All-Tournament Team. Williams recorded 10 points and 13 rebounds. Zach Norvell Jr. scored 17 points for Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs shut down Childs in the second half, only allowing him to score two points after recording 18 in the first 20 minutes. BYU continues to chase its first WCC championship since leaving the Mountain West in 2011.
Childs, Loyola Marymount’s James Batemon and Saint Mary’s’ Jock Landale were also selected to the All-Tournament Team.
It might have been the Bulldogs’ last game in the WCC with reports surfacing that a move to the Mountain West Conference could happen as soon as next season.
Gonzaga, last season’s national runner-up, now awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding as Selection Sunday nears. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Bulldogs projected as a fifth seed in the West region.
“We feel like the underdog, and we hunt best when we stay under the radar to make us even more hungry to get back there,” Williams said.