Gonzaga finds new outside shooter to beat Cougars
Kevin Pangos lights it up for nine three-pointers in 89-81 victory over Washington State.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SPOKANE — Gonzaga coaches have been riding their freshman point guard, Kevin Pangos. But it's a good ride. They want him to shoot more.
Looks like it's a decent idea.
Pangos, from Newmarket, Ontario, tied a Gonzaga school record with nine three-pointers, and the Zags needed just about every one of them to fend off a spirited run by Washington State down the stretch to take an 89-81 basketball victory Monday night.
"He's a great shooter," said Zags coach Mark Few. "That's not a fluke. Anytime he shoots it, it's a pretty good thing for us."
Pangos, who had 33 points and six assists, both game highs, gives the Zags a new look after a couple of seasons with Demetri Goodson, the quick and speedy but offensively challenged point guard, running the show. Teams often sagged and left Goodson to hurt them, and usually he didn't.
"It was mostly great shooting," said WSU coach Ken Bone, who thought his team's defense against Pangos was generally adequate. "We knew about him; we knew he was a great shooter."
Pangos rained in his ninth three — and his team's 13th, tying its season high of last year — with 7:28 left. Well before that, the Zags (2-0) had sprinted to a 63-42 lead against the Cougars, who were playing their season opener.
But the perimeter-oriented Cougars wouldn't go away. Point guard Reggie Moore attacked the basket more zealously and former Curtis High freshman Davonte Lacy contributed significantly, with three treys and 11 points.
Lacy's three with 3:48 remaining got the Cougars to down just 77-70, and the McCarthey Athletic Center crowd, raucous most of the night, began to get uneasy.
Another Lacy three at the 3:04 mark made it 77-73, Gonzaga. The margin dipped to three when Pangos fouled Moore beyond the arc, and the former Rainier Beach guard nailed all three to make it 81-78, Zags, with 1:24 left.
With 71 seconds showing, Gonzaga freshman Gary Bell of Kentridge High hit one of two free throws to bump the margin back to four.
Then came another bomb by Lacy that would have really turned it hairy for Gonzaga, but it rattled in and out and the Zags survived in the last minute, partly on the unerring free-throw shooting by 7-foot senior Robert Sacre. He drilled all 13 of his foul shots.
"What a blessing it is to have a '5' man who can go 13 for 13 at the foul line," said Few.
The game matched teams of contrasting strengths, the Cougars figuring to be strong on the perimeter, the Zags formidable up front.
WSU opened in a zone, looking to make GU prove it could succeed from long range, but Pangos took the Cougars out of that strategy early, and down 8-1, WSU switched to man-to-man.
"He's unbelievable," teammate Marquise Carter said of Pangos, who had six of his threes in the first half.
"I feel if they didn't shoot so well in the first half (10 of 20 on threes), we'd have won the game," said WSU guard Marcus Capers. "We focused on their post players and they ended up hurting us from the three-point line."
Pangos, who picked the Zags over Cincinnati and Michigan, has been shooting only under orders, Few said — orders to put it up.
"We've been on him and on him," Few said. "He's a pleaser. He wants to run the offense perfectly, wants to run the set perfectly."
Pangos seemed to take his big night in stride, saying, "I'm feeling great. It's good to know I can do something like that."
It's doubtful there were a lot of East Coast viewers tuned in at midnight for the first game of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, but Pangos gave them a show.
With 7:28 remaining, Pangos' ninth trey of the night tied him with Dan Dickau, the Zags' 2001-02 All-American, for the school record.
"That's pretty cool," Pangos said. "He was such a great player here."
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
Attendance: 6,000. Officials: Deron White, Bobby McRoy, Tom Wood.
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