Gonzaga rallies from 10-point deficit to topple West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs erased a five-point deficit with a late 13-0 run, fueled by three 3-pointers by Kevin Pangos, to rally past West Virginia 80-76 on Tuesday at WVU Coliseum.
Numerous players took turns carrying the Bulldogs. Sophomore center Przemek Karnowski had perhaps his best game as a Zag, scoring a season-high 19 points and equaling his career high with 13 rebounds. Pangos, who appeared to aggravate a toe injury in the first half, heated up down the stretch and finished with 18 points.
Gary Bell Jr. had 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds. Sam Dower, in foul trouble for most of the game, contributed 11 points. David Stockton chipped in eight assists and Kyle Dranginis added eight points and six rebounds.
“Like I told them afterward, this group of guys has won a lot of games, 32 last year and 26 the year before that,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “They’ve been in a lot of games, been in a lot of tough road environments and they’re used to making plays at the end of those.”
The 20th-ranked Bulldogs (9-1) trailed by as many as 10 – their largest deficit of the season – with 16 minutes remaining and were down 64-56 after Terry Henderson’s rare four-point play (he was fouled by Dranginis while making a 3-pointer).
Dranginis responded with a 3 and Stockton’s two free throws narrowed the Mountaineers’ lead to 64-61. Juwan Staten made a jumper, but that would be WVU’s last field for 5 1/2 minutes.
Pangos’ floater started the decisive spurt and Karnowski added two free throws. Pangos made a 3-pointer to give GU a 68-66 lead with 4:08 remaining, the Bulldogs’ first lead since late in the first half.
Pangos connected on 3s on the next two possessions and suddenly Gonzaga’s lead was 74-66 with 2:25 left.
“You never like missing shots like that,” said Pangos, who was just 3 of 10 in the first half, “but in the long run I always know the next one is going in, that’s how I feel. I trust my abilities and the work I put in.”
The Bulldogs committed three turnovers, allowing West Virginia (6-4) to trim Gonzaga’s lead to 78-76. Dower’s follow dunk with 34.6 seconds left put the Bulldogs up by four and they held on to beat West Virginia for the third time in 20 months.
West Virginia’s Eron Harris scored 23 points, 18 in the first half, and Staten added 17.
The Bulldogs, leading the nation in field-goal percentage at 54.9 entering the game, made a season-low 44.3 percent. They made 14 of 27 shots (52 percent) in the second half. Gonzaga had a 43-36 rebounding edge.
“Przemek was 7 of 8 at the free-throw line, which is a big step for him,” Few said. “He caught balls in traffic, finished some plays and when he did get fouled he stepped up and made free throws. But the best thing he did was rebound.”
Gonzaga, which has won five straight, faces South Alabama in the Battle in Seattle on Saturday.