After they absolutely annihilated Oklahoma on Friday night, Gonzaga got a solid test from one of the top non-BCS teams in the country. While there are things to work on, I don't think anyone would say they didn't pass the test with vigor. For a third straight game, it was Elias Harris that forced the action but it was probably Kevin Pangos' play down the stretch that was the difference as Gonzaga beat Davidson, 81-67, and won the Old Spice Classic for the second time.
For a third straight game, the Bulldogs did come out a little slow as they got down quickly to the Wildcats 13-4. It did not take long for them to rebound, however, as they tied the game back up four minutes later, 15-15. They built a solid nine point lead going into halftime on the shoulders of Elias Harris and a pretty balanced attack. In past games, we have grown accustomed to seeing the Zags come out of the break and dominate the opposition. Tonight, Davidson was up to the task and would not let the Bulldogs extend their lead. The Wildcats scored the first six points of the half and were virtually within 3-5 points the entire half up until about the five minute mark when Kevin Pangos basically decided he was tired of this close game nonsense and buried Davidson with three-pointers. The sophomore point guard scored every point for the Zags from 8:40 to 5:26 and they were all daggers from deep.
Pangos' effort was much needed for the Bulldogs and for himself as he had entered the game shooting the ball relatively poorly. Against Oklahoma and Clemson, he was combined 6-20 from the floor and folks were wondering what was going on with their point guard away from the friendly confines of the McCarthey Athletic Center. Tonight, he finished the game with 23 points on 9-14 shooting. His performance late in the second half was simply outstanding and he was a pleasure to watch shoot from deep.
Speaking of pleasures to watch, Elias Harris put together one of the most enjoyable stretches of basketball that I can remember. As unbiased as I can possibly be, I can't really think of another player I have watched so far this season that has impressed me as much as Harris. Tonight, Mark Few made a dedicated effort to get the ball to Elias early and often and it paid off. He finished the game with an absurd stat line of 9-11 from the floor with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He was extraordinarily active throughout the tournament and truly did it all for his team.
We'll have much more on this tournament and what it all means moving forward but tonight, savor the win as this squad really seems to have all the pieces to be extremely dangerous.