SPOKANE — Baylor picked the wrong night to go up against No. 13 Gonzaga and point guard Kevin Pangos.
Pangos made seven 3-pointers and scored 31 points to lead the Bulldogs past Baylor 94-87 on Friday night.
Pangos, who came in averaging 10 points and making 36 percent of his 3-point attempts, went 10 for 13 and finished two points shy of his career high.
“The big difference was Pangos,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “If you take his 31 out and give him his average of nine points, it’s a completely different game.
“It was one of those games where I felt like every time we got close, they had an answer. We could never make it where it was a one possession game and really put some pressure on them.”
Gonzaga’s defense prevented Baylor from anything more than a five-point run over the final 10 minutes of the game.
Pangos took care of things on the offensive side for Gonzaga.
“He’s fine,” coach Mark Few said. “I never was worried about him. As long as he just keeps shooting. He puts way too much time in the gym. He makes way too many in practice to worry about it. You got a guy that works that hard at it, I don’t think he was worried, or the staff was worried.
“It was due time for them to start going in.”
Kelly Olynyk added 21 points, Elias Harris had 17, and Gary Bell Jr. added 12 for the Bulldogs (12-1), who shot 52 percent from the field (31 of 59).
“Obviously, he was great,” Few said. “He really helped stem a lot of their rallies. I thought we did a nice job all night of being able to withstand their rallies. We’d build up a lead and they’d come fighting back. It seems like it happened six or seven times.”
Pierre Jackson led Baylor (8-4) with 26 points, Isaiah Austin had 20, and Cory Jefferson added 13. The Bears also shot 52 percent, but attempted 21 fewer free throws than Gonzaga.
“Pierre Jackson has to be the fastest guard I’ve ever gone against,” Bell Jr. said. “When he’s coming on the break, it’s kind of impossible to keep him in front without getting a foul.”
Gonzaga didn’t hold a lead until 4:53 remained in the first half but never trailed after halftime, leading by as many as 12.
“It was so fun,” Pangos said. “High scoring. When you’re a basketball player, you love that. You love defense, too, but you love a high-scoring game. It was nice. They never let us relax. Every time we got a double-digit lead, they came back and made some big plays.”
The Bulldogs drew two quick fouls on Austin — a 7-foot-1, 220-pound freshman — after halftime and he went to the bench with three fouls. Harris’ basket and free throw gave Gonzaga a 47-38 lead.
“That’s one thing that we have, a young front line,” Drew said. “Their veteran guys did a good job of getting some good position and also picking up some fouls on them.”
Baylor made its first three 3-point attempts of the second half, two by Jackson, to cut the deficit to 49-44. Jackson came in as the Big 12’s scoring leader, averaging 19 points and 6.3 assists.
Pangos’ second 3-pointer of the second half extended Gonzaga’s lead to 62-50 with 12:12 left. Pangos and Olynyk combined to score 15 straight Gonzaga points over a five-minute span.
“He (Olynyk) was very patient,” Few said. “He took what they gave him. He didn’t rush. He’s maturing like we’ve talked about all year. He played very well.”
Olynyk was 9 for 12 from the field and helped Gonzaga shoot 65 percent in the second half.
“First half, we held them to 40 percent,” Drew said. “I think a lot of that was because we controlled the tempo more. In the second half, we played a little faster game which got them in transition more. But you’re not going to win many games letting somebody shoot 66 percent.”
Austin showed off his versatile skills for Baylor, making shots from inside the paint, outside the 3-point line and mid-range jumpers. Jackson and Austin made back-to-back 3-pointers, and Baylor stayed within reach at 62-56.
“You have a 7-foot guy picking and popping, shooting 3’s,” Few said. “We tried to do something else, and then you’d turn Jackson loose down the lane, and he’s something else.”
Taurean Prince scored four quick points and drew a charge, leading to a jumper by Austin on the other end, and Baylor pulled within five with 9:39 left.
But the Bears couldn’t get any closer.
The first half was a different story. Baylor jumped out to a 8-2 lead in the opening minutes, but Gonzaga made three consecutive 3-pointers to tie it at 13. Jackson scored six straight points for Baylor, and the Bears pushed their lead to 24-18.
Bell Jr. hit a floater in the lane to give Gonzaga its first lead, 30-28, with 4:53 remaining in the half. The basket sparked a 9-0 run.
Austin’s baseline jumper ended a four-minute scoring drought for Baylor and cut Gonzaga’s lead to 34-30 with 3:28 left. Gonzaga led 38-33 at the break.
The Bulldogs made five 3-pointers in the first half and attempted nine more free throws than Baylor.
The Gonzaga crowd wasn’t its usual rowdy self, partially because most students were away during semester break. Gonzaga is 112-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Earlier this month, Baylor ended Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak at Rupp Arena.
Baylor was Gonzaga’s fourth matchup against a Big 12 school this season. The Zags have defeated West Virginia, Oklahoma and No. 25 Kansas State. The Bulldogs travel to Stillwater on Monday to face No. 22 Oklahoma State.