It took a couple of minutes for the Gonzaga Bulldogs to warm up on offense Thursday night. Once they did, they put on a passing-and-shooting clinic in the first half.
The Bulldogs made nearly 67 percent of their shots, including 9 of 13 3-pointers, to put Oklahoma in a huge halftime hole. From there, Gonzaga kept the Sooners at bay with defense, rebounding and, yes, more offense to claim an 83-69 men’s basketball victory in front of 11,542 at the Arena in the annual Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic.
The Bulldogs (10-3) won their second straight after a disappointing 76-41 loss to Duke on Dec. 19.
The game was delayed for about 45 minutes early in the second half when Oklahoma 6-foot-9, 296-pound freshman Keith “Tiny” Gallon shattered the glass backboard while trying to finish an alley-oop pass that never reached his hands. GU’s Robert Sacre poked the ball away, but Gallon carried out his dunk attempt and the backboard exploded, sending some pieces of glass as far as 70 feet away.
In a 2001 game at the Arena, Gonzaga’s Casey Calvary, who was in attendance Thursday, shattered a backboard 11 minutes into the second half against New Mexico. The game resumed 42 minutes later and New Mexico held off the Bulldogs 81-80.
Prior to the delay, Gonzaga’s offense pretty much exploded for the final 17 minutes, 30 seconds of the first half. After committing three turnovers and missing two shots to open the game, the Bulldogs scored on six straight possessions to quickly move in front 15-7. They didn’t cool off, even when Oklahoma switched from man-to-man defense to a zone.
Elias Harris (13 points), Bol Kong (11) and Matt Bouldin (10) all reached double figures before halftime. The trio made 13 of 15 shots. Harris, whose mother was visiting from Germany, was 5 of 5, including 3 of 3 3-pointers. Kong came off the bench to make a pair of 3s and all four of his shot attempts. Steven Gray added nine points as the Bulldogs piled up 12 assists on 18 baskets.
Gonzaga led 22-10 after Harris drove the baseline and finished with a two-handed jam. Three-pointers from Harris and Bouldin hiked GU’s lead to 14 before Oklahoma closed within 37-30.
The Bulldogs rattled off 15 points over the final 2:53 to take a commanding 52-34 lead at intermission.
Among the highlights was Kelly Olynyk’s wrap-around pass that led to a three-point play by Manny Arop, a Kong 3-pointer after some terrific passing left Oklahoma defenders scurrying to cover up open Bulldogs before the ball went to Kong near the top of the key. Kong capped the late run with a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
The Sooners (8-5) struggled on defense, but they were efficient at the offensive end, hitting 50 percent of their shots and making eight 3-pointers.
After the delay, Oklahoma trimmed the margin to 13, but Gonzaga stretched its lead to 23.
Steven Gray led five Zags in double figures with 18 points.
Harris had 15, Kong 14, Bouldin 12 and Sacre added 11.