Always willing to offer a metaphorical knee to Washington State’s groin, Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos scored 27 points, 20 in the first half, in a 90-74 win against the visiting Cougars in the annual nonconference meetup at McCarthey Athletic Center Thursday night.
Pangos knocked in five of eight threes against the Cougars milquetoast zone to help the No. 13 Zags improve to 4-0.
It was Pangos who banked in a clinching runner with 2.2 seconds last year at WSU’s Beasley Coliseum. As a freshman in 2011, he dropped 33 points and tied a school record with nine threes against the Cougars.
So Thursday it surprised none of the 6,000 gathered in Spokane when he put on a shooting clinic with four first-half treys and a 6-of-6 mark from the foul line.
The blistering shooting continued into the second half. The Zags finished 33 of 59 (55.9 percent) from the field, 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the three-point line and used seven-foot-one center Przemek Karnowski to abuse WSU’s weak frontcourt. Gonzaga outscored WSU 36-26 in the paint, out-rebounded it 35-30 and had a 20-13 edge in assists.
The tone was set in the opening moments when pint-sized Gonzaga guard David Stockton authoritatively drove to his right and banked in a score, drawing a foul from WSU’s Royce Woolridge. Karnowski followed the three-point play with a layup, Pangos knocked in a pair of free throws, Karnoswki countered with another layup, then Pangos added one of his own.
The Cougars trailed 11-3 with 17:08 remaining in the first half, and they never cut it closer than five the rest of the night.
Stockton, a senior, recorded nine points and nine assists, regularly finding wide open shooters around the perimeter.
Most effective was Zags’ senior Drew Barham, a transfer who exhausted his eligibility at the University of Memphis, but was allowed an additional year at Gonzaga because his former school didn’t offer his graduate program. Barham drained six of nine shots en route to 17 points and added eight rebounds. Dribble penetration from Pangos and Stockton regularly drew in defenders, and Barham was regularly left alone.
The 6-7 swingman made five of eight from beyond the arc.
Freshman point guard Ike Iroegbu paced WSU with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists on a night the Cougars showed why the West Coast media preseason poll predicted them to finish last in the Pac-12. WSU shot a respectable 44.6 percent from the field and made 15 of 21 free throws, though it didn’t matter in their first loss of the season.
The game marked the 148th meeting between the Eastern Washington rivals. The Cougars lead the all-time series 98-50.
WSU (2-1) returns to Beasley Coliseum Sunday to face TCU (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) while Gonzaga hops a plane to Hawaii to make a matchup Monday with the University of Dayton in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational (9 p.m., ESPN2).