Kevin Pangos hit a late shot to lift the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a 71-69 victory over the Washington State Cougars at Friel Court on Wednesday night. The Cougars came through to answer every Gonzaga run but the Bulldogs were able to pull through with the last real possession.
The Cougs played hard from the opening tip. They out-hustled Gonzaga in the first half. That helped them grab half of their own misses, and build a four-point lead after the first 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs' depth and WSU's lack thereof showed in the second half. The Cougs were gassed, and struggled to score. Jumpers were off, and getting clean looks became a chore. Gonzaga would build the lead to 56-45 on back-to-back threes from Elias Harris and Mike Hart with just over six minutes to play.
WSU wouldn't go away. Lacy buried consecutive threes to pull the game within 58-51. WSU then got stops on two-straight possessions, but Royce Woolridge missed a layup and Lacy missed an open three from the corner. Harris would score to put the Zags up 60-51 and it looked like WSU was finally out of time.
Then WSU's star, Brock Motum, finally broke out with a pair of threes to cut the lead to 60-57 and Friel Court came alive again. Lacy then buried another clutch three after a Junior Longrus steal to pull the Cougs even at 60.
The elation wouldn't last long, as Kelly Olynyk got an offensive board and scored plus one to put Gonzaga back on top. But WSU still wasn't done. Four-straight free throws from Lacy and Motum would give them the lead with 1:29 to play.
Olynyk would come up big for the Zags again with an impressive drive the the basket to give Gonzaga the lead. He would miss the free throw, but Hart would knock the rebound away from Dexter Kernich-Drew. Olynyk would then come up big one more time with a dagger three to put Gonzaga up four with 33.5 remaining.
And again, the Cougars would fight back. Motum hit a deep three off an offensive rebound to pull WSU within 68-67 with 14 seconds to play. Gary Bell, Jr. would then split a pair of free throws, and Lacy drove the lane for a game-tying bucket with 7.8 left.
Unfortunately, Pangos was allowed to drive the length of the floor for the game-winner with less than two seconds to play and the Bulldogs escaped Pullman with a win.
This was certainly a tough loss for the Cougs, as they seemed to force overtime late, only to have the Zags come up with one final play. They should certainly be commended for their effort. They were outmanned and outmatched, but took Gonzaga to the brink. If they can bring this sort of effort in Pac-12 play, they can win plenty of games.
Also, we told you Olynyk was easy to hate. And Pangos. Damn you, Pangos.