He called bank. Well, technically, maybe Adam Morrison didn't call it, like you call it in a driveway game of "horse. " But Morrison's growing...

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He called bank.


Well, technically, maybe Adam Morrison didn’t call it, like you call it in a driveway game of “horse.”


But Morrison’s growing legend spread Saturday afternoon at KeyArena, creating a buzz even among his Gonzaga entourage about the intent of his three-pointer that ultimately felled a rugged Oklahoma State team, 64-62, in the third “Battle in Seattle.”


“I knew it was going in,” Morrison said. “It wasn’t one of those where I was surprised.”


You could have fooled 13,644 at the Key, plus his head coach, Mark Few, and a good many others wearing Gonzaga white and blue.


This was the prelude to the latest Morrison magic, atop 43-point performances against Michigan State and Washington:


With 12 seconds left, Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan, who led his team with 19 points, had a one-and-one free throw curl out, leaving his team ahead 62-61. Without a timeout, the Zags hustled the ball up the floor and center J.P. Batista set a high screen for Morrison, temporarily erasing 6-foot-9 forward Marcus Dove, who had guarded Morrison all day like cellophane on a CD.


But 6-8 center David Monds lunged to help Dove, and Dove recovered to rush Morrison as well. Morrison faded back from 20 feet and cast up the shot that would win it, or lose it, just as he did — errantly — in the closing seconds of a loss six days earlier at Washington. It glanced off the glass from the right side and washed through with 2.5 seconds left.


“It felt good,” said Morrison, who had a game-high 25 points. “I knew it was going in, and it did. If you watch the tape … I knew I was gonna make it.


“I’ve shot that shot many times — not that I’ve banked it that many times, but I had the angle.”


So he planned the bank?


“Yeah. I had the angle.”


That touched off a debate among the Zags. Outside the locker room, Few said, “That’s what the best offensive player in America does. Was he lucky? Yeah. But that kid makes shots.”


But Zags assistant coach Bill Grier said, referring to Morrison’s story, “That’s what he told me. I was kind of [razzing] him and he said, ‘I tried to make it.’ You know what, his dad [John, a former junior-college coach] always makes him shoot bank shots from the angle, and Adam hates it. His dad’s theory is, it helps him get the ball up higher.”


So, Dad, what about you? Back inside the arena, where his son was done servicing a national radio show and now signing autographs, John Morrison said he doubted it, because the shot was so long.


Then there was David Pendergraft, a sophomore forward for the Zags, who had muscled to the ball side for a rebound that never mattered.


“I mean, he’s good enough that I believe him,” Pendergraft said. “I’m not arguing with him. The most important thing is, it went in.”


None of it would have mattered except for two things: Gonzaga, now 6-2, got to the free-throw line 31 times, making 25, while the rugged Cowboys were just 6 of 7.


“There’s very few games where you see that kind of difference,” said longtime OSU coach Eddie Sutton. “But that didn’t beat us.”


The Zags also profited from going to a zone defense with 12 minutes left. The Cowboys (6-3) didn’t react well, missing 10 shots in a row, helping Gonzaga’s long crawl back from a 12-point, second-half deficit.


“The young guys don’t understand the nuances of the zone,” said Few, explaining why he had shied away from it.


Still, it looked as though OSU would survive, holding the Zags to 39 percent shooting and just four assisted baskets. Down the stretch, it milked the clock and got late scores or rebound baskets and led by four inside the three-minute mark.


“A lot of teams would have caved,” Grier said, referring to the Zags. “But they kept plugging.”


With Dove’s hand in his face, Morrison drained a three-point shot from the left wing to bring his team within 60-59. After a travel by JamesOn Curry, Batista bulled down low with 1:38 left for the short hoop that gave Gonzaga its first lead since six minutes remained in the first half — and one of only five leads in the game. Guard Jamaal Brown’s two free throws with 47 seconds showing preceded Morrison’s final escapade.


Following Morrison’s shot, the Zags had some initial confusion defensively. But Curry’s desperation fling went long from about 40 feet.


The Zags are the kings of cliffhangers, having played last-possession thrillers against Michigan State, Connecticut, Washington and now Oklahoma State.


In the tense moments, you know who they count on. The bank teller.


Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com












































Playing the best
Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule is among the toughest in the nation. The key games — how they’ve fared and who’s on the horizon:
Date Result / Opponent (TV)
Nov. 21* Gonzaga 88, Maryland 76
Nov. 22* Gonzaga 109, Michigan St. 106 (3 OT)
Nov. 23* Connecticut 65, Gonzaga 63
Dec. 4 At Washington 99, Gonzaga 95
Dec. 10** Gonzaga 64, Oklahoma State 62
Dec. 17 vs. Virginia, 5 p.m. (FSN)
Dec. 22 at Saint Louis, 5:30 p.m. (FSN)
Dec. 27 at Memphis, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Dec. 31 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Feb. 11 vs. Stanford, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
*Maui Invitational; **At KeyArena