The first No. 1 seed has fallen, and unfortunately for the WCC, it’s the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In a game that was a back and forth affair, Wichita State was the tougher team and simply outplayed the Bulldogs. The Zags find themselves out of the tournament prematurely once again.
The standout statistic from the game was the Shockers fantastic shooting. Wichita State shot 50% from the field and from 3-point land. Gonzaga did not have the horses to keep up with them, as they shot only 35.6% from the floor.
Gonzaga was able to erase a 13 point deficit in the first half, when their offense started to click. The shots were falling, and Gonzaga was absolutely dominating the offensive glass. The Zags built up as large as an 8 point lead as the second half progressed. However, the Shockers caught fire from behind the arc and regained the lead with 3 minutes and 30 seconds to go. With a 2 point lead with about 1 minute and 30 seconds left in the second half, Fred Van Vleet drilled a 3-pointer at the latter end of the shot clock to extend the lead to 5. That was the proverbial dagger for Gonzaga.
As for Gonzaga, they did not play bad to any extent, but certainly didn’t play their best game. Kelly Olynyk struggled to finish around the basket all game long, an aspect of his game that is usually on the stronger side. He was only 8 for 22 from the floor, which is not even close to the efficiency that he usually displays. The Zags needed their superstar to come up big in this one, and he fell just a little short. Credit the Wichita State big men, Cleanthony Early, Carl Hall, and Ehimen Orukpe, for tormenting Olynyk the entire game.
Kevin Pangos, who was a part of my bold prediction that he would make 5 threes, played extremely well. Although he fell short of 5 3-pointers by one, he made shots in crucial stages of the game when Gonzaga needed them in the middle of the second half. Unfortunately for the Zags, they didn’t get one from Pangos when they absolutely needed one in the last 4 or 5 minutes of the game. In addition to his shooting, he was extremely active on defense, conjuring up 3 steals. Pangos is a bright spot in which Gonzaga fans certainly should be excited for in the following years.
Wichita made the shots when it counted, Gonzaga did not. Wichita State deserves all the credit in the world for this upset they pulled off tonight.
Congratulations for Gonzaga for having a great season. Although they are most likely disappointed in their early departure from the tournament, they had the most transcendent season in Gonzaga history. Great season fellas.