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Gonzaga captures Old Spice title

It was easily Gonzaga's most entertaining game so far, but I expect that'll change with the challenges coming on the Bulldogs' schedule in the next six weeks. GU repelled numerous Davidson comebacks for an 81-67 victory, fueled by Kevin Pangos' five 3-pointers and tourney MVP Elias Harris' 24 points and 10 boards.

My unedited game story is below. I'll have a day-after post tomorrow, just not sure when because of an early flight and a short layover!

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – During a second-half timeout, senior forward Elias Harris boiled down Gonzaga’s offensive strategy to simple terms.

“Keep feeding Kevin (Pangos),” Harris told his teammates. “He’s hot.”

Pangos knocked down four 3-pointers in the second half and Harris poured in 24 points as the Bulldogs turned back several Davidson rallies and captured the Old Spice Classic title with an entertaining 81-67 victory Sunday in front of 4,121 at the HP Field House.

Pangos misfired on 3 of 4 first-half 3s, but he shook those off just as Davidson (3-3) completed a comeback from a 12-point deficit to pull even at 51 with 9:21 remaining. Pangos made four 3s in the next 2:40, the first a spot-up 3 in transition, followed by a patient possession punctuated by another Pangos’ trey.

Davidson responded both times, but then so did Pangos, who drilled two more 3s, the last on a wide-open look from the corner on an inbounds play, giving Gonzaga breathing room with a 64-55 lead. All four of Pangos’ 3s hit nothing but net.

“My teammates got me open and I just let it fly,” said Pangos, who finished with 23 points, five assists and five rebounds. “Our team is really unselfish like that. If someone’s hot, we don’t care about our personal stats.”

No. 17 Gonzaga is 6-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season, when it captured its first Old Spice championship.

“We got tested in a variety of ways, both with how the games flowed and also with the difference schemes and matchups we faced,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “That’s an unbelievably skilled team that is tough as nails and fights you on every possession. We had to respond several different times to get it going in our direction.”

Before his second-half sharp-shooting, Pangos was just 3 of 14 from long distance in the tournament.

“He’s a fantastic shooter and he was getting good looks,” Few said. “Like those guys said, it doesn’t matter if he misses 10 in a row, everyone on the team wants him to take the 11th. And he deserves a lot of credit for that. One of the hardest things in sports is when things are going bad and going bad, most of us chalk it up to having a bad day. Fortunately, he didn’t do that.”

Harris was steady throughout Gonzaga’s three wins. Against Davidson, he grabbed 10 rebounds and made 9 of 11 shots and 6 of 7 free throws. In three games, Harris made 21 of 31 shots and averaged 18.3 points to earn tournament MVP honors.

“Harris is just so difficult to deal with,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “I’ll bet you he got three fouls (on Wildcats players) just going for rebounds. He’s a ferocious rebounder.”

Harris was joined on the all-tournament team by GU’s Kelly Olynyk, who finished with 14 points, six boards and two blocks, Davidson’s Nik Cochran, who had a team-high 17 points, Clemson’s Milton Jennings and Oklahoma’s Romero Osby.

“I really thought (Harris) was the best player in the tournament,” Few said. “He was a much more patient player in all three games. He didn’t settle. He attacked the rim on nearly every occasion.”

Davidson jumped in front 13-4 and led 18-15 when Gonzaga rattled off 15 unanswered points. Harris had nine points and an assist and Olynyk added a layup and two key defensive plays, drawing a charging foul and swatting De’Mon Brooks’ shot.

Gonzaga’s nine-point halftime lead dissolved quickly as Davidson connected on four 3-pointers. The Bulldogs clamped down defensively, closing with a 23-12 run over the final 6:50.

“They’re daggers,” McKillop said of Pangos’ 3-pointers. “And it wasn’t one or two, it was four. We answered each time and then we didn’t answer when Olynyk blocked (Chris) Czerapowicz’s shot. Olynyk hit a shot and we had another empty possession. It takes a little wind out of your sails.”

Gonzaga made 55 percent of field goal attempts, 50 percent beyond the 3-point arc. Davidson finished at 36.2 percent, the highest of GU’s last five opponents.

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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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