Gonzaga Comes Out On Top 71-55 In Dog Fight With Butler
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Kevin Pangos and Elias Harris each scored 19 points as Gonzaga beat Butler 71-55 on Tuesday night in a showdown of two of the most successful mid-major basketball programs in the nation.
Harris added nine rebounds for Gonzaga (8-2), which was coming off a win over Arizona.
Erik Fromm led Butler (5-7), a two-time NCAA title game finalist, with 16 points. Butler was coming off a win over Purdue that broke a three-game losing streak.
"They're such a hard team to play," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Butler. "They are so smart, but we didn't get frustrated."
Gonzaga took the lead early in the first half and held it the rest of the way.
After trailing by 10 at halftime, Butler was doomed by 30 percent shooting in the second half and never got closer than within six points of the lead.
"I thought our shot selection midway through each half really killed us tonight," said Butler coach Brad Stevens. "It's been a relatively tough shooting month."
A 3-pointer by Fromm brought Butler to within 51-45 with 10 minutes left. But Sam Dower and Pangos both replied with 3s and Gonzaga built a 59-47 lead with 8 minutes left.
Both teams went cold from the floor, and a tip-in by Kameron Woods cut Gonzaga's lead to 59-52 with 4:26 left. But David Stockton made a basket and Gary Bell Jr. hit four free throws to rebuild Gonzaga's lead to 65-52 with 2:30 left.
Butler shot just 36.9 percent for the game, including just 6 of 25 3-pointers. The Bulldogs from Indianapolis shot only four free throws, making one.
Gonzaga shot 49 percent and made 9 of 18 3-pointers. They were 14 of 21 from the line.
In the first, the teams traded baskets and Gonzaga led 22-18. Then Pangos scored 10 of his 12 first half points during a 14-4 Gonzaga run that gave them a 36-22 lead.
Gonzaga led 38-28 at halftime, as Butler was hurt by making just 2 of 10 3-pointers and committing 10 turnovers.
This was the second meeting between the teams - Butler won in 2006. Butler played in the state of Washington for the first time on Tuesday.
Gonzaga has won three straight after suffering two consecutive losses that knocked them from the Top 25. Both losses were to Top 25 teams from the Big Ten - No. 19 Michigan State and No. 25 Illinois. Gonzaga bounced back to beat Oral Roberts at home, then Arizona in Seattle last Saturday.
"We've handled ourselves really, really well," Few said.
Gonzaga remains home Thursday in their final game prior to Christmas when the Air Force Academy visits the McCarthey Athletic Center.
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