North Dakota State gave Gonzaga all it could handle and then some on Friday, but it wasn’t enough to knock off the No. 2 Zags in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 64 matchup in Seattle, which the Bulldogs won 86-76.
The No. 15 Bison jumped out to a 9-4 lead after hitting their first three attempts from behind the arc, but Gonzaga answered with a 15-4 run, a lead it wouldn’t surrender. The Bulldogs took a 43-30 lead into the halftime break and would maintain a double-digit advantage through most of the second half, but not without having to continually respond to big shots from the pesky Bison.
Paul Miller and Dexter Werner (both substitutes) combined to score all 19 of North Dakota State’s points over a 6:22 stretch that brought the Bison to within six points with just under six minutes left, but they would never get closer. West Coast Conference Player of the Year Kevin Pangos scored seven quick points for the Zags (including a four-point play) that brought the lead back to 11.
Pangos, who made his 138th consecutive start for Mark Few, scored 12 of his 18 points in the final 5:44 to finally stave off North Dakota State, 86-76. Kyle Wiltjer had a game-high 23 points on 8 for 12 shooting, while Gary Bell Jr. (13 points) and Przemek Karnowski (11) scored in double figures as well. The Zags shot 51.7% from the field as a team.
North Dakota State finished with a higher shooting percentage than Gonzaga at 53.7% (and 10 for 21 from behind the arc), but took four fewer shots and attempted 16 fewer free throws. Werner had a team-high 22 points, while Lawrence Alexander dropped in 19. Miller scored in double figures as well with 10 for the Bison.