Gary Bell Jr. made a three-pointer with 35.7 seconds left to put 10th-ranked Gonzaga ahead, Kevin Pangos added two free throws down the stretch and the visiting Zags beat No. 22 Oklahoma State 69-68
STILLWATER, Okla. — The way Gary Bell Jr. looked after coming out of Gonzaga’s game with a right-knee injury, coach Mark Few wasn’t sure whether he had made the right call by putting the sophomore guard back in.
It turned out Bell, a Kentridge High School graduate, was in the right place at exactly the right time.
Bell made a three-pointer from the left wing with 35.7 seconds left to put the 10th-ranked Zags ahead, Kevin Pangos made two clinching free throws down the stretch and Gonzaga beat No. 22 Oklahoma State 69-68 Monday to spoil one of the Cowboys’ most anticipated nonconference games at Gallagher-Iba Arena in decades.
“Just adrenaline helped me a lot,” said Bell, who came out of the game in the first three minutes of the second half and was flexing his knee on the bench to try and get ready to return. “Especially in those tight games, with the adrenaline pouring, you can play through a lot.”
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Pangos finished with 23 points and fellow Canadian Kelly Olynyk scored all 21 of his points in the second half for the West Coast Conference Zags (13-1), who completed a five-game sweep of Big 12 Conference competition — having already blown out West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State before beating Baylor on Friday.
Bell scored eight points.
Marcus Smart led Oklahoma State (10-2) with 23 points but missed two free throws with 8.7 seconds left and the Cowboys down two. Elias Harris grabbed the rebound on Smart’s second miss, and Pangos was fouled in the backcourt before stepping to the line to drill both free throws.
Phil Forte made a three-pointer at the buzzer for Oklahoma State. Markel Brown contributed 16 points.
“We can play with those high-caliber teams,” Smart said. “Gonzaga’s a great team. They’ve beat a couple great teams. For us to come out there and keep it that close, I felt like that just proved a lot to ourselves and to a lot of people that Oklahoma State has a chance. Yeah, it’s not the outcome that we wanted. But we’re going to take this as a learning lesson and improve on it.”
Four other top-10 teams had played at Gallagher-Iba Arena outside of conference play, and Gonzaga was the first ranked team outside of the Big Eight or Big 12 to visit Stillwater since Memphis in 1989. Louisville was the last top-10 team to play in the building outside of conference play, in 1980.
Booster T. Boone Pickens ensured it would be a capacity crowd by buying nearly 4,000 tickets that remained unsold and providing for them to be handed out for free.
Mike Hart set a screen to help free Bell for the three-point basket that gave Gonzaga a 67-65 lead.
“I was wide open. When I had my feet set, it was automatic,” Bell said.
Olynyk fouled out while keeping Smart from getting an easy layup that would have tied the score — and it proved to be well worth it as the Zags moved to 5-0 against Oklahoma State in the past eight seasons.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Olynyk said. “We’re playing well as a team. We’re confident in ourselves, we’re confident in our teammates, we’re confident in our abilities and I think what we’re most confident about is we still have a lot of room to grow. We’re definitely not at our peak right now.”