SPOKANE — Kevin Pangos went to the sideline after getting hit in the head, his 3-point duel with Travis Bader and Gonzaga’s game against Oakland (Mich.) in doubt.
He came back to make sure both turned out fine.
Pangos scored 21 points to help the No. 15 Bulldogs to an 82-67 victory over the short-handed Golden Grizzlies on Sunday night.
Pangos made a steal — leading to a momentum-changing dunk by Sam Dower — got hit in the head and briefly left the game with 17 minutes remaining.
He came back in and sank two 3-pointers to push Gonzaga’s lead to 56-47.
“I just got kneed in the head and was in pain for a little bit,” Pangos said. “It kind of woke me up, I guess.”
He made five 3-pointers to match Bader, the 2012-13 NCAA leader in 3-point makes. Both were 6 of 13 overall and 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Both teams made 11 shots from behind the arc.
Dower finished with 15 points, Gary Bell Jr. scored 14, and Przemek Karnowski had 12 for Gonzaga (3-0).
Bader scored 22 for Oakland (0-4), which had eight players because Dante Williams and Duke Mondy were suspended and sent back to Michigan.
Mondy, who led the NCAA in steals (100) last season, and Williams were arrested Thursday in Southern California. A woman alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by the two men, but prosecutors declined to press charges because of a lack of evidence. The school said it would conduct an internal investigation.
In their absence, Tommie McCune had 17 points. Mitch Baenziger added 11 before fouling out with 3 minutes left.
Baenziger made Oakland’s fourth 3-pointer of the second half to trim the Zags’ lead to 63-55 with 7:28 left. But consecutive 3-pointers by Pangos and Drew Barham put Gonzaga up 69-55 before Bader answered with his fifth 3-pointer.
“I feel like I probably ran off a thousand screens tonight,” Bell said of guarding Bader. “I played him as tough as I could.”
The first half was close throughout, with Gonzaga’s largest lead at 12 points. In Gonzaga’s previous two games, the Bulldogs led by 21 points at halftime.
“That was good for us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That’s a really tough, hard-nosed team. ... They pushed us and challenged us, and our guys responded and kept their composure and ended up getting it done.”
Gonzaga nailed three consecutive 3-pointers in 65 seconds to take an early 15-9 lead. In its last game against Colorado State, Gonzaga made 14 shots from behind the arc — eight by Bell.
Pangos made two free throws after McCune was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. Karnowski made two more from the line on Gonzaga’s ensuing possession to extend its lead to 21-13.
Oakland would not go away.
McCune’s 3-pointer and his assist to Ralph Hill for a dunk cut the deficit to 23-18 with under 9 minutes to go. Bader’s 3-pointer made it 34-27 with 4 minutes left. Bader made three of Oakland’s final four shots of the first half, all 3-pointers, and the Golden Grizzlies trailed 39-30 at halftime.
With only three players on its bench, Oakland played a zone defense for much of the game.
“That’s what we wanted (zone), but we couldn’t just fall in love with the 3,” Bell said. “We weren’t making them like we were last game.”