SAN DIEGO — The seedings for this anticipated NCAA tournament West Regional matchup were close. But Gonzaga was in control nearly the entire contest.
No. 8-seeded Gonzaga defeated No. 9-seeded Oklahoma State 85-77 on Friday in a second-round contest,
Gonzaga (31-4) was led by guard Kevin Pangos’ 26 points, with 12 coming at the free-throw line.
Oklahoma State (21-13) was paced by guard Marcus Smart’s 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
The Cowboys did not help their cause with some mediocre free-throw shooting. Oklahoma State converted just 22 of 37 at the line (59 percent).
There were 61 fouls in the game and three Oklahoma State players — forwards Le’Bryan Nash and Leyton Hammonds and center Kamari Murphy — fouled out. Bulldogs guard Kyle Dranginis and forward Sam Dower Jr. were also disqualified with five fouls.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We knew we had to be the toughest team out there.”
Gonzaga was up nine points at the half and led by 12 after guard David Stockton opened the final 20 minutes with a 3-pointer. But Oklahoma State cut that lead to five before a layup by Gary Bell Jr. and a 3-pointer by guard Drew Barham stretched the margin to 10.
Oklahoma State would climb to within 53-50 with a little than 11 minutes remaining. But Bell hit a 3-pointer and Pangos added a steal and a layup and the Cowboys would not be that near the Bulldogs the rest of the contest.
The Cowboys did make a late run, but the game was not as close as the final score indicated.
“It just wasn’t our night,” Oklahoma State coach Ford Travis said. “We didn’t make our free throws, we didn’t make our shots, but give Gonzaga credit.”
The Bulldogs will play Arizona on Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16.
Five minutes into the game, Oklahoma State had only one field goal, which led to a 15-4 deficit. Gonzaga had an 11-point lead twice in the first half before Oklahoma State went on a 10-0 run, fueled by seven points by Smart and a tip-in by Murphy.
But Gonzaga stretched its cushion back to seven points, thanks to four buckets in the paint. It became a nine-point lead about four minutes before halftime after Dranginis sank a 3-pointer. But Smart, who had a team-high 12 points in the first half, hit a jumper to pull the Cowboys to 34-33.
Then the Bulldogs went on a 9-1 sprint to end the half that included 3-pointers from Barham and Pangos.
NOTES: Gonzaga had faced Oklahoma State five times before Friday, winning all five games. … Bulldogs F Sam Dower Jr. was named the West Coast Conference tournament MVP after averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game. … It was a sweet 16 for Gonzaga before the game as it celebrated its 16th straight NCAA Tournament trip. … Oklahoma State averages 80 points per game and has four players scoring at least 13 per game. … Of the Cowboys’ 12 losses coming into the game, three came when leading scoring guard Marcus Smart was suspended. … Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Oklahoma State is just the second team to have a seven-game losing streak and receive an at-large bid.