In a game plagued with foul calls, Oklahoma State got hit in the face early and often by eighth-seeded Gonzaga and fell short in a late comeback attempt, losing to the Zags 85-77 in a second-round NCAA Tournament West Region game on Friday at the Viejas Arena in San Diego.
Gonzaga jumped out to a 9-0 lead early and led by the same margin, 43-34 at the end of the first half. The Cowboys cut the Gonzaga lead down to three points and had it at five points on two occasions in the second half, but that was a close as they would get, as the Zags held on down the stretch to advance to Sunday’s third round and a date with West Region No. 1 seed Arizona.
Last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, scored 23 points for the Cowboys in what will likely be his last college game. Smart, a sophomore, is expected to declare for the NBA Draft in June. Smart was 12 for 15 at the free-throw line and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Senior guard Markel Brown contributed 20 points to OSU’s cause in his final college game.
A total of 61 fouls were called in the game, 33 on Oklahoma State and 28 on Gonzaga. Three Cowboys’ players (Le’Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Leyton Hammonds) fouled out. OSU shot 37 free throws in the game, but cashed in only 22 of them (59 percent), well below its season average. The Zags weren’t much better from the charity stripe, making just 26 of 41 for 63 percent.
Interesting, the 61 fouls that were whistled in this game was not a tournament record. The record for fouls called in an NCAA Tournament game is 68 in a game between Iowa and Morehead State in 1956.
Gonzaga junior guard Kevin Pangos scored 26 points for the Zags, 12 coming from the free-throw line. Gary Bell, Jr. had 17 points, three of four coming on three-point bombs, and Oklahoma State had no answer for Gonzaga 7-1 sophomore center Prezemek Karnowski, who added 15 more.
Gonzaga is making its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance. Oklahoma State ends what has been a disappointing year for a team projected in the preseason to be one of the favorites to win the conference. The Cowboys finish with a 21-13 overall record in 2013-14.