LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk played a major role in his first game of the season.
Olynyk and Elias Harris each scored 13 points to help No. 17 Gonzaga beat Clemson 57-49 in a first round game Thursday night at the Old Spice Classic.
“It was a very good win for us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We haven’t been in a grinder yet, and we need to experience that. We need to experience being successful in an evironment like that.”
Olynyk was in the starting lineup after missing the previous three games due to a violation of the student code of conduct. The redshirt junior, who had his first two shots blocked, also had three rebounds.
“It was a little different,” Olynyk said about his initial two shots. “It was kind of like an awakening, but it was good for me. Just tried to pick it up from there.”
Olynyk played 24 minutes.
“I was just out there trying to play,” Olynyk said. “Trying to play my game. It was tough at first for me, just getting back into the swing of things.”
Clemson got 10 points from Adonis Filer. Milton Jennings had six points and eight rebounds.
“A disappointing loss because of how hard we played,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “The guys did a really good job of getting the tempo we wanted. Gonzaga is a great team. Very talented, and they’re very smart. They can play a lot of different ways.”
Sam Dower had 11 points for Gonzaga (4-0), which will go against Oklahoma in Friday’s semifinals. Clemson (2-1) will face Texas-El Paso in the loser’s bracket.
David Stockton had an end-to-end layup, while Kevin Pangos and Harris added in-close baskets as Gonzaga went ahead 47-39 with 6 1-2 minutes to play.
Harris’ 3-point play two minutes later made it 50-41.
Stockton had a career-high seven assists, Harris pulled down nine rebounds.
Olynyk scored four points during a 6-0 run that saw Gonzaga go up 31-30 early in the second half. Olynyk had another basket and Guy Landry Edi added a dunk as the Zags grabbed a 37-33 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
Clemson took a 24-23 advantage at the half, which had eight lead changes and three ties.
Gonzaga had the final five points in the first half, including a buzz-beating tip-in by Olynyk.
Damarcus Harrison’s 3-pointer gave Clemson a 24-18 lead two minutes before the break. The Tigers scored the first four points of the game and went up 8-5 on a Rod Hall basket.
Pangos’ layup put Gonzaga ahead 11-10 with nine minutes left in the first half. The Zags missed 9 of their first 10 shots, and went 9 for 27 (33 percent) during the opening half.
Clemson was 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) from the floor over the first 20 minutes. The Tigers also struggled during the second half, making just 8 of 29 shots.