The performance hours later wasn’t always textbook, but the tone was established, and the second-seeded Zags muscled out an 86-76 victory over North Dakota State on Friday night at KeyArena.

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It was going to be a ritual, midafternoon pregame meal for Gonzaga. And then the tenor changed.

The Zag seniors had something to say on the brink of what they envision as a deep run into the maw of the NCAA-tournament bracket. Kevin Pangos got up and said everybody matters, and everybody would be needed, and if you don’t think you matter, you’re wrong.

Gary Bell Jr. said he lays 110 percent out there every night, and he wanted the same from everybody else. Byron Wesley said this was what all the sweat, hugs and tears were about.

“They kind of led the charge,” said assistant coach Brian Michaelson, indicating the talks weren’t staff-inspired. “We’ve never done something like it.”

The performance hours later wasn’t always textbook, but the tone was established, and the second-seeded Zags muscled out an 86-76 victory over North Dakota State on Friday night at KeyArena.

So they did something different in pregame, hours before they did something else they hadn’t ever done. The Zags won their school-record 33rd game, and they also won a game in the tournament for the seventh successive year, a streak second only to Kansas’ nine.

“It was heartfelt,” said Eric McClellan, the GU reserve guard, describing the pregame oratory. “They just discussed how they loved us. It’s their going-out party, and they made sure we all understood our common goal is a Final Four and hopefully a national championship.

“It was heartfelt, and I think this team needed it.”

Pangos, in particular, demonstrated that actions speak louder than words. He had 15 of his 18 points in the second half, dished five assists and had no turnovers as the only guy in the game to play 40 minutes, and on consecutive North Dakota State possessions in the first half, took charges.

“He was magnificent tonight,” said McClellan. “I expect nothing less from Pangos.”

Bell, meanwhile, kept NDSU’s best player, guard Lawrence Alexander, from completely going off, even as Alexander had 19. But the same couldn’t be said for the defense against boxy, 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward Dexter Werner, for whom the Zags had no remote answer. He went for 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, no matter, as McClellan said wryly, “He didn’t match the eye test. Big credit to him.”

On this night, there was something for both teams. The Zags simply needed to advance, while the Bison surely left without shame, having twice whittled an 18-point second-half deficit to six, enough to get the pro-Gonzaga crowd squirming in its seats.

Indeed, the Bison shot 53.7 percent, an opponent high this year. Said Pangos, “I didn’t think our defense was that bad. They hit some tough shots.”

Gonzaga had a 12-0 burst in the first half to take a 24-13 lead, using a huge size advantage to get the Bison in foul trouble.

After Kyle Wiltjer (23 points) and Pangos drained threes and Bell converted inside, it was 53-35, and 30 looked like a logical margin.

Instead, Werner, swiveling his ample frame against Wiltjer and Domas Sabonis, corkscrewed in some difficult shots, and with six minutes left, it was only 68-62.

That’s when Pangos unleashed a three from the left side. He drained it, and Werner collapsed on him, creating a four-point play.

From there, the Zags made it to the finish.

Zags coach Mark Few credited the Bison (24-9), saying, “That was a really, really courageous and big-hearted opponent.”

As opposed to the next one, which is just big. Iowa looked devastating in leveling Davidson, 83-52, giving the Zags a lot to think about.

“They were extraordinarily impressive tonight,” Michaelson said. “They’ll be the tallest team we’ve faced all year. We haven’t seen that kind of length, especially at the 2 through 4 (positions).”

You wouldn’t call it a command performance by Gonzaga, but one of the alternatives what was happened to several teams Thursday in the tournament.

The Zags are surviving and advancing, in the wake of some senior moments.