Back with my day-after post following Gonzaga’s 69-68 win over
Read on for more.
--If it wasn’t completely clear before, it was evident throughout Monday’s game how much Kelly Olynyk and Gary Bell Jr. mean to GU’s team. Olynyk was in foul trouble in the first half and picked up his third early in the second half. He departed for less than three minutes before returning – and dominating until he fouled out in the closing seconds.
Gonzaga went to a zone defense to help protect Olynyk, coach Mark Few said. “And then he got a real cheap fourth (away from the ball).”
With Olynyk on the bench in the first half, GU struggled to operate against OSU’s pressure defense, committing 10 turnovers to erase an 11-point lead.
“I don’t think we would have had that breakdown against their run-and-jump press,” Few said. “He’s kind of our problem solver, especially against pressure like that because he can handle it and pass it and he has such a good feel.”
Olynyk made 7 of 12 shots and 7 of 8 free throws. He had a couple of putbacks of his own misses, one coming with 1:30 left to put GU in front 64-63. I couldn’t tell if his shot was touched by a defender or hit the rim, but Olynyk quickly grabbed the loose ball and finished. OSU coach Travis Ford and many in the crowd felt traveling should have been called.
“I think (OSU guard Marcus) Smart was really pressed up on our guard and it gave me a lane to drive,” Olynyk said. “I went into his body and tried to get it up on the glass and go right back up and tip it in because I knew the (defender) wouldn’t have a chance to get it. I think I lost the ball a bit, but you just have to stay with it.”
Meanwhile, Bell crumpled to the floor, grabbing his right knee with 17:24 left in the second half. He wasn’t sure what happened and neither was Kevin Pangos, but both tumbled to the court after a collision that also involved an OSU player.
“I was worried,” Pangos said. “I don’t know who I hit, I just know I got a knee to my quad and it hurt. I think it was the (OSU) screener, but I’m not sure.”
Bellexited for 7½ minutes. When he came back he wasn’t at full speed. He passed up one open 3-pointer, missed a pair of 3s and was way off on a runner that Olynyk retrieved and scored.
“He didn’t look good when he came back from the knee,” Few said. “He missed one badly and he took a runner – we call it a punt where you’re just punting and giving up. I was like, man, I don’t know if we should have GB out there. It took a lot of courage and he stepped up. I knew right when he let it go (a late 3-pointer) it was in.”
Bell finished with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, but still hit the key shot. It was reminiscent of the WSU game when Pangos struggled throughout but made a short bank shot in the closing seconds of a 71-69 victory.
“I really don’t know who hit me,” Bell said. “When it happened, it hurt really bad. Coach Few came over and he was like, ‘You’re fine, you’re fine.’ I stretched it out a little bit. It still hurts a little bit.”
--OSU’s Ford had high praise for Olynyk and the Zags in general. Olynyk had 21 points and nine rebounds in the second half after playing just six first-half minutes.
“Our lack of physicality really hurt us,” Ford said. “We only have one physical player around the rim, and that’s Philip Jurick. We have some physical guards, but nobody around the rim. Jurick got in some foul trouble and we had to bring him out. They just destroyed us on the glass. That’s the bottom line.
“We just let one guy control the game in the second half, and in a close game like this the team that is getting the easy baskets is probably going to win and they were getting easy baskets. We had to work so hard for ours. It goes back to rebounding.”
Ford said he’s watched a ton of games as well as videotape of numerous teams across the country. “I haven’t seen five teams better than Gonzaga. They just keep throwing guys at you, they just keep coming at you. They’ve got role guys that are difference-makers. (Mike) Hart is a difference-maker.”
STATS OF NOTE
--Gonzaga won the boards, 37-21, with 16 offensive rebounds leading to 18 second-chance points. Gonzaga had a 20-9 rebounding edge in the second half. Olynyk had nine rebounds and Hart and Harris each had five.
--Hart entered the game with one turnover in 170 minutes, but committed three in 28 minutes vs. OSU. Still, he made his typical assortment of hustle plays and set the screen that helped free Bell for his 3-pointer.
--Tough night for Elias Harris, who was 2 of 9 shooting and scored just seven points.
--Tough night for Kyle Dranginis, too. He played just three minutes, but committed three turnovers.
--Przemek Karnowski and Sam Dower each went 2 of 2 on FGs. The four bigs combined for 36 points.
Bell: “That’s a big win, to beat a Top 25 team on the road and this place is one of the hardest places to play.”
Ford on Smart, who missed two free throws with 8.7 seconds left that could have tied the game: “Marcus overall played a great game. We wouldn’t have been in the position we were in if it weren’t for a lot of things he did. He’ll shake that off because he’ll be in that position again at some point.”
Olynyk: “In my mind I was thinking a lot about the Washington State game (22 points in second half) where I didn’t get an opportunity in the first half, but in the second half I tried to go at them.”
Few on Bell’s 3-pointer: “Kevin made a great pass off the deep penetration off the ball screen. Then Mike Hart did what Mike Hart does. He does every little thing you can ever imagine. He tracks down loose rebounds. He’s an unselfish guy and he set a good screen for Gary Bell out there.”