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Gonzaga escapes Provo with WCC title

Mar 1, 2013 - 8:19 AM Provo, UT (Sports Network) - Kelly Olynyk netted 19 points on Thursday to help No. 2 Gonzaga claim its 10th outright West Coast Conference title with a hard- fought, 70-65, road win over BYU at Marriott Center.

Gary Bell, Jr. followed with 15 points, while Elias Harris added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs (28-2, 15-0 WCC), who have won 11 straight games and are poised to potentially earn their first No. 1 national ranking following top-ranked Indiana's loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Before Gonzaga can take the No. 1 national ranking, the Bulldogs must beat Portland at home on Saturday, which would wrap up their conference slate with a perfect record.

Tyler Haws led BYU (20-10, 9-6) with 19 points and six boards, while Brandon Davies donated a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars, who have dropped two straight.

"I'm really proud of our guys; I thought we competed really hard," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I thought our guys put us in a position where we could have won the game, but you have to give Gonzaga credit. They came in here and did what they had to do to win."

Gonzaga led throughout the contest and held a seemingly comfortable 54-43 cushion just over nine minutes into the second half after Kyle Dranginis drained a 3-pointer.

Haws answered with a three-point play at the other end, sparking a 17-6 BYU push that was highlighted by three straight 3-pointers and capped by two Davies free throws to knot the game at 60-60 with 4:18 left.

Harris split a pair of free throws at the other end, and then came up with a steal before finishing a layup inside to give the Bulldogs a three-point edge.

Davies' tip-in cut the margin to one, and after the teams exchanged empty possessions, Craig Cusick got a great look at a 3-pointer, but he airballed the shot and Mike Hart corralled the rebound before being fouled.

Hart then missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, but the Bulldogs were able to recover the offensive board before Olynyk knocked down a midrange jumper to make it 65-62 with 46 seconds left.

Haws came up empty on a running layup on BYU's next touch and Kevin Pangos buried two at the line to push the margin to five with 24 seconds to play.

Another Haws miss gave Olynyk a chance to seal it, but he missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 before Cusick was fouled on a 3-point try and hit all three free throws to bring BYU within 67-65 with nine seconds left.

Harris then split a pair of free throws to leave the door open, but Gonzaga elected to foul on the ensuing BYU touch and Cusick missed the first free throw before Harris grabbed the board.

Harris then nailed two free throws to ice the game and help the Bulldogs escape with the victory.

"I knew we were going to have to work," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "I knew BYU was going to give us everything we could handle, especially in this building. They deserve a lot of credit for taking it down to the wire."

Gonzaga controlled the play in the early going and led by as many as nine in the first half, but the Bulldogs went the final 7:35 of the frame without a field goal to watch their lead shrink to just four, 35-31, at the break.

Game Notes

Cusick added 10 points for BYU ... Gonzaga shot 41.5 percent (22-for-53) from the field, but went just 6-of-30 from long range ... BYU shot 36.5 percent (23-for-63) from the field ... Gonzaga outscored BYU, 30-22, in the paint.