If there was ever a win that somehow still felt like a loss, Gonzaga's effort was exactly that tonight in a 71-66 win. The Bulldogs led by as many as 22 points, but apparently forgot that Portland has nothing better to do than beat us and let the Pilots creep into our nightmares.
This living nightmare lingered. Portland pushed the lead to three-points in the second half, and did so without three-fifths of their starting lineup. Thomas van der Mars, Kevin Bailey and Alec Wintering spent much of the second half on the bench with four fouls. And yet, for reasons only known to God, Portland was sitting around and competing.
Oh wait, God isn't all that mysterious. Gonzaga was absolutely flat in the second half -- both offensively and defensively. They went a good nine minutes without a field goal, making three free throws during that time as Portland completely disregarded Gonzaga's 20 point lead. Portland drained a few crazy shots from the outside, but also had the good pleasure of making wide open three point shots. At the start of the game, it looked like it was all Gonzaga. Portland humbled us, and then some.
Eventually, the student section got into it. Eventually, the team got into it. Eventually, David Stockton hit a three pointer. Eventually, Kevin Pangos hit a three pointer. Eventually, the Gonzaga Bulldogs got a win. But, and hopefully I'm not the only one feeling like this, it tastes like a cat took a dump in my mouth. I can't wait to go to sleep and wake up tomorrow like this game never happened. I mean, just look at that game flow. Ugh.
A few quick observations:
- David Stockton and Kevin Pangos led the team with 13 points. Both weren't really that good. Stockton was actually pretty good in the first half, but in the second half I just wasn't really feeling it. And him being in there was coming at the expense of Angel Nunez, which...
- Speaking of Nunez, he had a great game. He finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He was the best player in the first half, and he didn't see the second half too much. Especially considering that Gonzaga needed an obvious boost of energy while deciding to go 1,037 minutes in the second half without a field goal.
- I don't care about Pangos 13 points because he picked most of them up on the free throw line, with four of them coming in the final 30 seconds. His slump continued as he went 2-of-8 from the floor and 2-of-7 from the field. Pangos is shooting 35 percent over his past five games. Mark Few needs to figure out how to work around Pangos at the moment, and having Stockton on the floor at the same time doesn't do the trick. Stockton shoots as well as a slumping Pangos, and lately that has left our feared backcourt about as scary as The Nightmare on Elm Street IXX.
- Speaking of a slumping Pangos, it would've been nice to see Gary Bell score a few more points. To do that, he needs to take more than four shots. Bell was an afterthought on the offense tonight.
- I may be in the minority about this, but with everyone asking where was Gerard Coleman, I feel he was on the bench with poor shot attempts. I like his energy, but he needs to realize when a shot isn't going to happen and not try and force it. His two attempted reverse takes to the hoop were ugly. Tell me why I'm wrong. Honestly, please, because I am less and less in his camp every day.
- Przemek Karnowski had a bad offensive night, but so did the rest of the team. His defense was outstanding, however. He finished with four blocks and had some big time rebounds. At times, Karnowski seemed to be the only person aware of putting forth some effort on defense. His growth this year on that end has been amazing, and will be amazing to see in the future.
I'm not going to take anything away from Portland here. They fought back from 22 points to almost steal a game from Gonzaga at home. Ryan Nicholas was excellent, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Honestly, it feels like the better team lost this game. For Gonzaga, that is hardly the feeling you want going into Saturday's game against Memphis, but that is what it is. This team has laid two dinosaur eggs in its past three games and needs a heart to heart talk equivalent to all the final episodes of The Bachelor combined.
Things aren't right in Spokane at the moment. Without a quick fix, March will be over before we know it.