STILLWATER, Okla. — The way Gary Bell Jr. looked after coming out of Gonzaga’s game with a right knee injury, coach Mark Few wasn’t sure whether he’d made the right call by putting him back in.
It turned out that Bell was in the right place at the right time.
The Kentridge High grad hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 35.7 seconds left to put the 10th-ranked Bulldogs ahead, Kevin Pangos made two clinching free throws down the stretch and Gonzaga beat No. 22 Oklahoma State 69-68 Monday night to spoil one of the Cowboys’ most anticipated non-conference games at Gallagher-Iba Arena in decades.
“Just adrenaline helped me a lot,” said Bell, who came out of the game in the first 3 minutes of the second half and was flexing his knee on the bench to try and get ready to return.
“Especially in those tight games, with the adrenaline pouring, you can play through a lot.”
Pangos finished with 23 points and Kelly Olynyk scored all 21 of his points in the second half for the Bulldogs (13-1), who completed a perfect five-game sweep of Big 12 competition — having already blown out West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State before beating Baylor on Friday night.
Marcus Smart led Oklahoma State (10-2) with 23 points but missed two free throws with 8.7 seconds left with the Cowboys trailing by two. Elias Harris grabbed the rebound on Smart’s second miss, and Pangos was fouled in the backcourt before making both free throws.
Phil Forte then connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Oklahoma State. Markel Brown contributed 16 points and Forte scored 15 for the Cowboys.
“We can play with those high-caliber teams,” Smart said. “Gonzaga’s a great team. They’ve beat a couple great teams. For us to come out there and keep it that close, I felt like that just proved a lot to ourselves and to a lot of people that Oklahoma State has a chance.”
Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens ensured it would be a capacity crowd by buying up nearly 4,000 tickets that remained unsold and provided for them to be handed out for free. The Zags still found a way to send the 13,611 fans home unhappy.
Olynyk, the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer, fought foul trouble in the first half but was able to play through it in the second half. The 7-footer had a pair of buckets off offensive rebounds to put the Zags back on top, before Smart answered with a putback of his own for a 65-64 OSU advantage.
After an Oklahoma State timeout, Mike Hart set a screen to free up Bell’s 3-pointer from the left wing that gave Gonzaga a 67-65 lead.