SAN DIEGO – The sound of the whistle will be stuck in every spectator’s head after the Gonzaga Bulldogs squared off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The referees called 61 fouls in Gonzaga’s 85-77 win over Oklahoma State, as the eighth seeded Bulldogs won their sixth straight in the Round of 64 during NCAA’s March Madness Tournament.
Oklahoma State was seen as a potential sleeper, who could upset Arizona in the Round of 32 and even make it to the Elite Eight and Final Four. However, Gonzaga knocked them out of the tournament due to the team’s 50% field goal and three point percentage, shooting 25-50 from the field and 9-18 from beyond the arc.
Kevin Pangos dropped 26 points for Gonzaga, including 10 straight free throws in the final 1:31 minutes of the game. Discussing the plethora of fouls, Pangos said, “Especially at the end, it got a bit choppy. But it was smart on their part. It prolonged the game, with empty possessions and a weird rhythm. But our team did a great job of pulling through and getting it done no matter how the tempo went.”
Marcus Smart scored 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, six steals, and one block, but could not lift the ninth seeded Cowboys to victory. Oklahoma State lost Le’Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Leyton Hammonds near the end of the game, as all of them fouled out.
Phil Forte III appeared to have injured his knee during the game, but returned quickly. He limped around the rest of the game, but still played 39 minutes. He shot 3-of-12 from the field which likely stemmed from the injury. He was not taken out, as the Cowboys clearly had a disadvantage on the court.
The Cowboys struggled to make three pointers, shooting 20% from beyond the arc (3-of-15) and 60% from the free throw line (22-37). Smart shot 12-of-19 from the line and 1-for-5 from downtown; he has played his last game in an Oklahoma State uniform.
When asked about Gonzaga’s performance, Oklahoma State’s Head Coach Travis Ford said, “They answered every run we made with big plays. We threw a few punches in the second half and we said to our guys, `Let’s get aggressive, let’s get after it.'”
The Bulldogs will take on the number one ranked Arizona Wildcats on March 23.