SAN DIEGO — Tweeeeeeet!
Gonzaga and Oklahoma State players, coaches and fans no doubt left Viejas Arena with the shrill sound of the referees’ whistles ringing in their ears Friday.
The refs called 61 fouls, which affected the pace and outcome of eighth-seeded Gonzaga’s 85-77 win against Marcus Smart and ninth-seeded Oklahoma State in the West region of the NCAA tournament.
Kevin Pangos scored 26 points, including hitting 12 of 14 free throws, and Gary Bell Jr. added 17 for Gonzaga (29-6), which is in its 16th straight NCAA tournament and moves on to play top-seeded Arizona on Sunday.
Pangos made 10 of 10 free throws in the last 1:31. The final 3 1/2 minutes took 24 minutes to play.
The 61 fouls were seven off the record for fouls in a tournament game set by Iowa and Morehead State in a regional semifinal game in 1956.
The Cowboys were called for 33 fouls, with Le’Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Leyton Hammonds fouling out. The Zags made 26 of 41 free throws. The Zags were whistled 28 times, with Sam Dower Jr. and Kyle Dranginis fouling out. The Cowboys made only 22 of 37 from the stripe.
“Especially at the end, it got a bit choppy,” Pangos said. “But it was smart on their part. It prolonged the game, with empty possessions and a weird rhythm. But our team did a great job of pulling through and getting it done no matter how the tempo went.”
Smart had a big effort in his final college game, with 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and six steals for Oklahoma State (21-13). He was 12 of 19 from the line.
All the fouling “changed it a bit,” Smart said. “I mean, you know, I can’t remember the foul count, how many free throws both teams shot, but it was a good amount. And it kind of slowed the game down, gave us a chance to get back in it, but we just fell short.”