Oklahoma State basketball: Gonzaga holds off OSU
The Cowboys fell to the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs 69-68 at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday night.
STILLWATER — Marcus Smart waited for the question Monday night, fully expecting it.
Still, the answer didn't come easy.
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After nearly willing Oklahoma State to a victory over No. 10 Gonzaga, scoring a career-high 23 points, his two missed free throws with :08.7 left opened the door for the Bulldogs to seal a 69-68 win in a tense showdown between Top 25 teams before a near-packed house at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smart, an 83 percent foul shooter entering the game, missed 3 of 6 free throws against Gonzaga, including the two with his team down 67-65 in the closing seconds, after he drove to the basket and drew contact from Bulldogs big man Kelly Olynyk, who fouled out on the play.
After Smart missed his two shots, Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos made two at the other end, pushing the lead to 69-65, just enough to offset Phil Forte's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“So far, I've been shooting the ball from the free-throw line very well,” Smart said. “In my mind, I went up there, I was confident. But sometimes it just doesn't go the way you want it. That's kind of what happened tonight.
“You know…,” Smart said, his voice tailing off, “I don't know what to say.”
Until those misses, it appeared Smart was set to hoist the No. 22 Cowboys to a significant victory over a Gonzaga squad that had already beaten four Big 12 teams, scoring 14 of his points in the second half. Time and again, he fired in critical shots in a variety of ways — a 3-pointer to cut a six-point deficit in half; a driving, spinning layup, a jumper in the lane and finally a follow underneath — all in the final 9 1/2 minutes.
“Great player,” said Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos, who scored a team-high 23 points. “Tough guy. Defends the ball really well. Can score in multiple ways.
“Just a competitor. He'll have a great career. It was fun to go up against him.”
The Cowboys fell to 10-2, while Gonzaga improved to 13-1.
With the much-anticipated matchup living up to advance billing and Gallagher-Iba rocking like glory days of the past, OSU rallied from an early 11-point deficit, kept answering Bulldogs spurts and even led 63-60 inside the 3-minute mark.
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