It was quite the show here at Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center Monday night: A 33-point performance by the Zags’ prize freshman point guard, Kevin Pangos, and very nearly, a stirring comeback win for the Cougars. Gonzaga prevailed, 89-81.
WSU was down by 21 in the second half, got it back to three with 84 seconds left, and then Gonzaga nursed the lead in with free throws down the stretch.
Both teams can take something from this: Clearly, the Zags have something good in Pangos and Kentridge High freshman guard Gary Bell, who teamed with Pangos down the stretch in the tense moments when the Cougars were making their run.
Bell had 14 points, and his quickness and explosiveness are going to be obvious assets for the Zags. That doesn’t mean there weren’t nervous moments for Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
“They’re (the Cougars) trapping, and we hadn’t even worked on it,” he lamented. “That’s two games (including Eastern Washington Friday night) where we didn’t have film on anybody.”
The Cougars, meanwhile, showed a lot of heart, and obviously have some major weapons on the perimeter, including promising freshman Davonte Lacy of Curtis High. They’re going to be challenged up front all year, but Brock Motum had 17 points and eight rebounds against one of the better front lines around.
“We relaxed, we were happy we were up by as much as we were, and they took advantage of us being lazy on defense,” said Gonzaga guard Marquise Carter.
“We’re pretty raw right now,” said WSU senior Marcus Capers. But he added that losing by eight to a Top 25 outfit is no reason for embarrassment.
Added Capers, “As long as we mature during the season.”