Gonzaga's forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) shoots over St. John's forward Christian Jones (4) in the first half of an NIT Season Tip-off championship NCAA college basketball game at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmoni
Kathy Kmonicek
November 28, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) Domantas Sabonis had 14 points and eight rebounds to help No. 10 Gonzaga beat St. John's 73-66 on Friday night in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game.

The 6-foot-10 Sabonis, the son of former NBA center Arvydas Sabonis, was 6 for 6 from the field off the bench.

''He's basically a starter,'' Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. ''It's nice to have somebody like that. I mean, he's thought of as such and I trust him that much. That's why we play him at the end of the games, even switching ball screens with him; so putting him on guards after they set a ball screen.''

Few said Sabonis will be the X-factor for the Bulldogs.

''I think we may be different than years past,'' Few said. ''We've got an upside. I think he's going to get nothing but better and our team will adapt as he does get better.''

Gary Bell Jr. added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs (6-0).

''We've got a long time before we hit conference play,'' Few said. ''We've got some things we need to work on this week. But again, we came back here, we were challenged. We played some very good teams. I think we played two NCAA Tournament teams, which I think is a good sign. We played experienced teams in both Georgia and St. John's that are hungry to get back to the tournament, to beat a ranked team. We had to fight them.''

Gonzaga built a 15-point lead midway through the second half, but St. John's cut it to three at 69-66 with 1:01 remaining. Kevin Pangos missed a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left, and St. John's Rysheed Jordan missed a layup with 27 seconds to go. Gonzaga's Byron Wesley and St. John's' D'Angelo Harrison then traded turnovers. Pangos made two free throws to put the game out of reach and give the Bulldogs a 71-66 lead.

Phil Greene IV led St. John's (4-1) with 20 points. Jordan had 18 points and D'Angelo Harrison added 15.

''We did some good things, but we are not big on moral victories,'' St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. ''I was pleased with the fight our guys had in them tonight. Coming back from 15-down with just over 10 minutes left with the degree of foul trouble that we had going against a top-10 team. We expect to win, so the disappointment is that we didn't finish it off and win a championship tonight.''

TOURNAMENT MVP

Pangos was selected the tournament MVP. He had 11 points against St. John's after scoring 22 in the opener against Georgia.

''It was an honor,'' Pangos said, ''but the entire team, you could kind of pick anyone. It's a well-rounded team.''

RESTING EASY

Few said having Pangos as his floor general has made his job easier.

''Well, yeah, I sleep a solid eight hours at night,'' Few said. ''I've been blessed with some great ones. But yeah, he's a special guy.''

TIP-INS

St. John's: Greene made four 3-pointers after missing all eight of his attempts through the first four games.

Gonzaga: Pangos has committed only four total turnovers in five games this season.

EMPTY SEATS

The announced attendance was 5,548 at Madison Square Garden.

UP NEXT:

St. John's: St. John's will host Niagara on Tuesday night.

Gonzaga: Gonzaga will host Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday night.

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