Ryan Spangler played 21 minutes, pulled down eight rebounds and even hit two of three shots. "Every dog is going to have his day," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
PITTSBURGH — No upsets graced the sub-regional here Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in the NCAA tournament, except maybe this one:
Anybody figure Ryan Spangler would lead all rebounders in the Gonzaga-West Virginia game?
“We always say, every dog is going to have his day,” said Zags coach Mark Few after GU’s 77-54 win over West Virginia. “It was just one of those games where we knew he could play and be efficient.”
Spangler is a 6-8, 232-pound freshman forward from Blanchard, Okla., outside Oklahoma City. He had played a grand total of 22 minutes since Jan. 7, but something told the Zags coaches he might be valuable against West Virginia, and he was. Elias Harris got in early foul trouble, Sam Dower followed later, and they turned to Spangler.
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He played 21 minutes, pulled down eight rebounds and even hit two of three shots.
“That’s my game,” said Spangler, who wasn’t recruited by either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. “I’m going to try to hit you first, get the rebound and go after you.”
West Virginia had two true “bigs,” as opposed to some of the lineups the Zags frequently see in the West Coast Conference, with a combination of four guards and wings. So GU sensed Spangler might be serviceable.
“He really helped us,” Few said. “We were in probably as serious foul trouble as we’ve been all season.”
In Brandon’s Memory
The Zags learned Thursday morning of the death in Spokane of 11-year-old Brandon Chastain, whom they had befriended early this season. Brandon had fought a recurring brain tumor since he was three years old.
Asked about him on the interview podium, Few declined to elaborate as his eyes watered, saying, “It’s something we’ve kind of carried with us personally and privately. I think we’ll just keep it that way.
“It was a tough morning, but it ended up a great evening.”
Robert Sacre, the Gonzaga center, said his team remembered Brandon in a pregame huddle.
“It just showed us we should leave everything on the floor and have no regrets,” Sacre said. “Life is too short to be regretting things. We have these games and these games are so precious. We need to come out and play it all-out.”
• Gary Bell Jr., the freshman from Kentridge, put up more threes in the first three minutes (two, hitting one), than he did in 75 minutes in the WCC tournament. Asked how he put behind him a mediocre game against Saint Mary’s, he said, “I just had to toughen up. I didn’t rebound as well as I could against Saint Mary’s, so I made sure in this game, I would help the bigs.” Bell had four rebounds and 14 points, which tied Sacre for a team-high.
• West Virginia coach Bob Huggins fell to 1-2 against Few, but at least he was there to the end this time. In Salt Lake City in 2003 at a first-round game won by Gonzaga, Huggins, then coaching Cincinnati, was ejected in the second half — along with a Bearcats broadcaster who lipped off to an official.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org