Final Score: Gonzaga 71, Washington State 69
Twitter recap: Olynyk and Lacy post career highs. Zaga big man gets last laugh, comes up clutch. Harris dominant, but overshadowed. Pangos wins it w/layup
What a finish. Fans and casual viewers who lasted to the end were treated to the most exhilarating final five minutes of the college basketball season. Between Kelly Olynyk’s stretch of invincibility, Washington State’s torrid 3-point shooting barrage late—keyed by DaVonte Lacy and Brock Motum—and the seesaw ending capped off by Pangos’ driving runner off the glass with two seconds to play, Wednesday night’s thrilling west coast showdown had all the ingredients of a riveting finish. It didn’t disappoint.
Kelly Olynyk, ladies and gentlemen. He hit his first 3-pointer of the season with 35 seconds remaining in a one-point game, notched a career-high 22 points—all in the second half—and scored eight points in the final two-and-a-half minutes to power the Bulldogs. He scored in every which way—from the perimeter, off the dribble, in post-ups, on put-backs—and was a stalwart on the defensive end as well. He even engaged in a little confrontation late in the first half with Washington State’s best player, goading him (Motum) into a technical foul. About the only thing Olynyk didn’t do was throw t-shirts into the stands during timeouts. Maybe he’s saving that for his next act.
Elias Harris undercard. The best player out west couldn’t have played much better, yet he was but a footnote on this game. Harris scored 23 points (10-17 FG) in a variety of ways, adding six rebounds, four steals and three assists to his line. What Olynyk meant to the Fighting Fews in the second half, Harris meant to the Bulldogs in the first. Harris and Gary Bell Jr. combined to score Gonzaga’s first 17 points of the game and 21 of the team’s first 22. The do-everything, NBA-ready forward is not shooting the ball particularly well so far this season, but the rest of his game is already in midseason form.
Silent assassin. Kevin Pangos was off his game just a tad (he certainly wasn’t missing by much). Quiet for most of the night, the standout sophomore couldn’t find his shooting touch…until the game was on the line. Then the Pangos that lit up Washington State for 33 points (9 3-pointers) as a freshman rediscovered his swagger. After Lacy tied the game on a driving layup with less than ten seconds to play, Pangos raced up the court, collected himself as he began to lose control of his dribble and flung up a one-handed, fall-away bank-shot after a subtle double-clutch. You know the rest by now.
Lacy ready for primetime. The talented sophomore guard scored a career-high 20 points, including 13 in the game’s final seven minutes, to help spearhead a furious Gonzaga comeback down 11. Lacy canned three consecutive triples and scored the equalizer with seven seconds to go before Pangos stole back the spotlight. If Wednesday night was any indication, Lacy appears primed for a breakout sophomore season
No knock on Brock. For the love of all that’s great about college basketball, this kid needs more national pub. I’ll do my part. The least heralded of last year’s All Pac-12 first-team selections, Motum again showed why he’s one of the nation’s most underrated great players. The Australian native buried five 3-pointers—three in the game’s final four minutes to pull the Cougars closer—and showcased his indispensable value to Washington State’s offensive game plan. Whether he was setting screens to free cutters, popping up top and stretching the defense or attacking the hoop and finishing within 10 feet, Motum was in some way the enabler of the crisp offensive sets the Cougars ran most of the night. His multi-dimensional skill set paired with his 6-foot-10 frame makes him one of the toughest defensive assignments in all of college basketball.