No. 23 Gonzaga hangs on to beat Portland 71-66

  • Associated Press
  • Wednesday, February 5, 2014 10:32pm
  • Sports

SPOKANE — David Stockton, Angel Nunez and Kevin Pangos all scored 13 points and No. 23 Gonzaga hung on to beat Portland 71-66 on Wednesday night, avenging a January loss to the Pilots.

Sam Dower Jr. added 10 points for Gonzaga (21-3, 11-1 West Coast), which has a three-game lead over BYU and San Francisco in the conference and is seeking its 15th regular season title in the past 17 years.

Ryan Nicholas scored 15 points to lead Portland (13-11, 5-7), which was seeking its first victory in Spokane since 2003.

Gonzaga jumped to a big lead in the first half, but had one of its worst shooting droughts of the season in the second to allow Portland to overtake them. Three-point baskets by Stockton and Pangos and a flurry of free throws lifted the Zags to their seventh consecutive win.

The score was tied at 5 when Gonzaga went on a 17-1 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers from Drew Barham, to take a 22-6 lead.

Gonzaga, which has won 23 straight home games, made 10 of its first 15 shots, including five 3-pointers.

The Zags didn’t stop there. After a Portland basket, Gonzaga put together a 13-5 run to take a 35-13 lead. That run featured another 3-pointer by Barham and consecutive 3-pointers by Stockton.

Gonzaga led 40-23 at halftime, after making 56.5 percent of its shots, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range.

The Pilots opened the second half with an 11-3 run to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 43-34. Gonzaga, meanwhile, lost its shooting touch, and led 44-39 with 12 minutes left.

Nicholas hit four consecutive free throws to bring the Pilots within 45-43. Gerard Coleman replied with Gonzaga’s first field goal in 10 minutes, ending a string of nine misses.

Bobby Sharp’s 3-pointer for Portland tied the score at 51, and Bryce Pressley’s 3-pointer 30 seconds later put the Pilots ahead 54-51 with 6:40 left in the game.

Dower hit a field goal and two free throws to tie the score at 56, and then his layup put the Zags ahead 58-56 with 3:38 left.

After an exchange of free throws, Stockton hit a 3-pointer to lift Gonzaga to a 63-58 lead with 2:20 left.

Thomas van der Mars scored for Portland, but Pangos replied with a 3-pointer to give Gonzaga a 66-60 lead with 1:33 left.

Van der Mars connected on a hook shot for Portland. But Stockton hit one free throw and Pangos two for a 69-62 lead with 25 seconds left.

Nicholas had a putback for Portland, but the Pilots were forced to foul.

Portland upset Gonzaga 82-73 on Jan. 9, a loss that knocked the Zags out of the Top 25. It snapped the Pilots’ 20-game losing streak to the Zags.

Gonzaga is third in the nation in field goal percentage (50.4). The Bulldogs shot 46.5 percent for this game, just 35 percent in the second half.

Gonzaga is 132-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

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