Kevin Pangos has made a habit of big scoring nights or timely buckets against Washington State.
Gonzaga’s junior guard was at it again Thursday, and he had a lot of company.
Pangos poured in 27 points, Drew Barham had a career-high 17 and David Stockton nearly had a double-double as the 13th-ranked Bulldogs handled the Cougars 90-74 in front of a full house of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Pangos hit nine 3-pointers and scored 33 points two years ago against WSU. He struggled in Pullman last season but delivered the game-winner with a short bank shot. On Thursday, he struck for five 3s – two in the final 75 seconds of the first half to hike Gonzaga’s lead to 49-33 – and made all six of his free throws.
“Other guys hooked him up,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “Others were able to drive, then we have to help on the drive and they did a great job of spacing it out and finding the open guy. Whether it was Pangos, or (Gary) Bell or Barham, I don’t think they came down just looking for the 3 or created it by going one-on-one. They did it as a team.”
On a night when Sam Dower and Bell, GU’s leading scorer entering the game, battled foul trouble and had fairly quiet nights, the bench provided 25 points, sparked by Barham’s five 3s and eight rebounds and Kyle Dranginis’ busy stat line of eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Przemek Karnowski struggled at the free-throw line but contributed 12 points and six rebounds. Stockton added nine points, nine assists, three steals and zero turnovers in 35 minutes – “That’s like his old man’s numbers,” said head coach Mark Few, referring to Hall of Famer John Stockton.
“Stocks really drove it well and found me. I was just feeling it,” Pangos said. “I guess I like playing against these guys.”
The Cougars (2-1) never led, but they stayed semi-close after freshman guard Ike Iroegbu checked in 3-plus minutes into the first half. He immediately hit a 3-pointer and scored 15 points in just 12 minutes.
Iroegbu went on to lead the Cougars in scoring (20), rebounds (six) and assists (four).
“He’s going to be good,” said WSU junior guard DaVonté Lacy, who added 14 points. “It’s just his third college game. He has to continue to grow and get better.”
Gonzaga’s guards don’t lack for experience. Bell and Pangos have been starters virtually all of their careers and Stockton is a fifth-year senior. The trio had 15 of GU’s 20 assists. The Bulldogs made 56 percent of their shots, their fourth consecutive game in the 50s.
Barham, who subs in as soon as one of the interior players picks up their first foul, was summoned after just 59 seconds. He had three 3s as Gonzaga stretched its lead to 29-20. He had two treys in an 84-second span in the second half to bump GU’s lead to 70-52.
Beyond the 3-point barrage by Barham and Pangos, perhaps the game’s biggest basket came early in the second half. WSU had trimmed a 19-point deficit to 57-48 on Royce Woolridge’s layup. After a timeout, Dranginis penetrated for a three-point play, starting a 13-4 run.
“I had just missed a corner 3 and (assistant coach) Brian Michaelson told me, ‘That’s a good shot but we’re not hitting those right now. Just give a pump fake and attack the rim,’” Dranginis said. “It wasn’t planned, but they closed out hard so I pump-faked and ripped and it was an open lane.”
Gonzaga (4-0) has won three straight against the Cougars, who shot 54 percent in the second half but couldn’t make up ground because they couldn’t get defensive stops.
“We don’t just have one, two or three options,” said Bell, who had 12 points. “When I went out Kyle gave us great minutes. Drew gave us good minutes for Sam. We have a team.”