SPOKANE — Gonzaga’s young pups are growing up fast.
Freshmen guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. led the way Thursday night as the Zags held off Oral Roberts 67-61 in a non-conference men’s college basketball game.
Pangos led Gonzaga (6-2) with 14 points and seven assists. Bell defended Oral Roberts star Dominique Morrison for much of the game and held the senior to 13 points and 4-for-12 shooting.
“He’s a strong player,” said Bell, who scored six points in his second start of the season. “An NBA prospect, I heard. I think I did pretty good on him. I made his shots tough. That’s all you can do. If he makes a tough shot, he makes a tough shot.”
Elias Harris added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, and Rob Sacre had nine points and 10 rebounds. Backup center Sam Dower scored 12 points for Gonzaga, which enjoyed a 23-4 edge in bench points.
Damen Bell-Holter led Oral Roberts (7-4) with 16 points.
Gonzaga shot 60 percent from the field in the first half and led 37-29 at the break. The Golden Eagles never led in the second half, but Gonzaga’s cushion dwindled to 65-61 after Morrison sank two free throws with 1:47 remaining.
A pair of Pangos free throws accounted for the only scoring the rest of the way. Pangos sank all eight of his foul shots to offset a 2-for-9 shooting night from the field.
“We lost the game the last eight minutes of the first half,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. “We built a 27-20 lead and had the ball and we just got rattled. We lost our composure. Instead of being up, possibly, at half, you find yourself down eight, and we’re playing catch-up the whole second half.”
Dower went 6-for-7 from the floor. He was called on to play extra minutes when Sacre was limited to seven minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls.
The first half featured surges by both teams. A 10-0 run pushed Gonzaga ahead 17-9, Oral Roberts ran off 11 straight points to lead 27-20, and the Bulldogs had another 10-0 stretch to go ahead 30-27.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few labeled the game “a grinder. A gut check.”
“I’ve been preaching all week they’re a very good basketball team,” Few said.
Gonzaga had a 40-25 advantage in rebounds. However, the bigger Bulldogs held just a 24-22 advantage in points in the paint, and Oral Roberts enjoyed an 11-6 edge in second-chance points.
Gonzaga came in a loser of two straight — to Illinois and Michigan State — after starting the season 5-0. Oral Roberts had won six of seven following a 0-2 start.