LAHAINA, Hawaii – There are no mulligans in college basketball, but until March there is always another opportunity.
Sometimes those opportunities come in a condensed time frame. Gonzaga had roughly 14 1/2 hours to flush Monday’s disappointing loss to Dayton in the EA Sports Maui Invitational and direct its attention toward Chaminade.
The Bulldogs did just that, overwhelming the NCAA Division II Silverswords 113-81 before an announced crowd of 2,400 Tuesday at the Lahaina Civic Center. No. 11 Gonzaga (5-1) will face Arkansas (4-1), an 87-73 winner over Minnesota, today at 2 (PST) for fifth- and sixth place. Regardless of the outcome it’ll be GU’s lowest finish in four Maui appearances.
“Today was about responding,” coach Mark Few said. “In a situation like this, there’s not a whole lot of X-ing and O-ing going on. It’s about looking inside yourself and stepping up against a team that can frustrate you with banging in 3s and spreading you out. For the most part, we did a really nice job.”
Gonzaga threatened the school record for field-goal percentage (71.8), finishing fourth on the list at 69.7. The Bulldogs made 23 of 31 attempts (74.2 percent) in the first half to take a 58-40 lead. GU’s 3-point shooters rebounded from Monday’s 26.3-percent effort as Kyle Dranginis hit four 3s and Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Drew Barham each made three.
Seven Zags reached double figures, led by Sam Dower Jr.’s and Gerard Coleman’s 19. The bench, limited to nine points Monday, contributed 48 points.
Coleman, who hadn’t reached double figures since a promising first two games, torched the Silverswords (2-2) in transition and with drives or cuts along the baseline. He finished with a season-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, one of those misses a 3-pointer that swirled around the rim.
“How do I say it – just letting the game come to you,” Coleman said. “They came out in a zone and coach Tommy (Lloyd) stressed, ‘Don’t look for your shot right away, let the ball move and then attack.’ That’s what I’m learning in this system, instead of trying to go off when I first get the ball. I’m getting better in that department.”
Gonzaga yielded 81 points but bottled up guard Christophe Varidel, who followed up Monday’s 42-point performance against Baylor with just seven shot attempts and eight points in 21 minutes. He committed four turnovers.
Bell and Pangos divided time on Varidel.
“I just tried not to let him get it because he shoots the 3, he can catch and shoot and he can do stuff off the dribble,” Pangos said. “Coach (Few) said to face-guard him in certain situations and that’s what I was trying to do without fouling.”
Fouling and rebounding, major issues Monday, were minor ones less than a day later. Avoiding foul trouble isn’t easy with essentially an eight-man rotation but only Barham finished with four fouls.
Przemek Karnowski grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, converting several for putback baskets in traffic against Chaminade’s thin frontcourt. GU held a 31-28 rebounding edge, despite allowing 12 offensive boards.
“I was focused for sure,” Karnowski said, “because I had just six rebounds (vs. Dayton) and it was probably one of the reasons we lost the game. I think I did all right.”
Pangos and Bell, who combined for one assist in 68 minutes Monday, had 13 assists in 50 minutes.
Arkansas will challenge Gonzaga with its pressure defense. Minnesota committed 16 turnovers, leading to 23 Razorbacks’ points.
“Off the charts athletic and long and we have not done a great job thus far of keeping guys off the glass, which is usually a strength of ours,” Few said. “In less than 24 hours we’re going to have to really solve that.”
(8) Syracuse 92, California 81: Tyler Ennis scored 28 points and led two key second-half runs that carried the Orange (6-0) past the Golden Bears (5-1) in the semifinals, and into tonight’s championship game against Baylor.
(18) Baylor 67, Dayton 66: Cory Jefferson had a go-ahead putback with 16 seconds left and the Bears (6-0) rallied to beat the Flyers (5-1) in the other semifinal.
Arkansas 87, Minnesota 73: Alandise Harris scored 15 points and the Razorbacks (4-1) took control with a 10-0 run to start the second half and beat the Golden Gophers (5-2).