DALLAS (AP) - Remember those giant killers from Gonzaga? They finally have another big victory after several missed chances already this season.
The Bulldogs, who earned a reputation for themselves with big upsets in NCAA tournaments past, got a go-ahead 3-pointer from Kelly Olynyk with 1:46 remaining Saturday and handed ninth-ranked Baylor its first loss of the season, 68-64 in a game played only about 100 miles from the Bears’ campus.
“When I saw that I was like ‘Woohoo!’ That was a great feeling. It took the weight off our shoulders and you knew the game was ours,” said Robert Sacre, who led the Bulldogs with 17 points. “We’ve been here so many times, we just haven’t been able to pull it out. We knew what we needed to do was keep grinding and keep sawing wood to get the win.”
The big shot by Olynyk came right after Baylor (7-1), with its highest ranking ever, scored four points on one possession.
Gonzaga (6-5) made 7 of 9 free throws after that to seal the long-awaited victory. Four of the Bulldogs’ losses this season came against Top 25 teams: San Diego State, Kansas State, Illinois and Notre Dame.
“Through this murder’s row we’ve been through, it’s been hard to get any momentum,” coach Mark Few said. “Teams have made a lot shots against us. We defended well and we rebounded good because that’s a good rebounding club.”
Baylor, playing away from home for the first time this season, was among the national leaders in rebounding margin (plus 12.5 a game) and scoring margin (plus 21.7 per game). Gonzaga matched the Bears with 33 rebounds.
With Gonzaga’s leading scorer Steven Gray out of the game because of back spasms after a hard fall in the first half, Olynyk made his only 3-pointer of the game. It was the last of 12 lead changes after halftime.
“I don’t think we could find our way from the hotel to the bus without Steven Gray,” Few said.
But the Bulldogs did all right against Baylor.
Olynyk came through after Baylor had taken a 59-58 lead with 2 minutes left. Perry Jones hit a jumper from near the free throw line. While the ball was in the air, a foul was called under the basket and Quincy Acy made two free throws.
“That was a big-time play by Kelly,” Few said. “For us to survive all that, to survive a run like that, with the crowd into it and Kelly steps up and hits a big 3-pointer.”
Jones then came up short on a jumper, and Baylor had two quick fouls. Demetri Goodson made two free throws after being fouled by LaceDarius Dunn in the backcourt for a 63-59 lead—matching the biggest point differential after halftime.
After Goodson lost the ball out of bounds on the sideline in a crowd of Bears and then fouled Dunn, Baylor’s senior made only one of the two free throws. Marquise Carter made two free throws with 47 seconds left to make it 65-60, then Goodson had a steal on a turnover by Dunn.
“I think they wanted it more, they came out with more intensity than us at the first of the game. We can’t wait ‘til the last minute to get going,” Dunn said. “They came out with a chip on their shoulder, and they came out and worked harder.”
Jones, the freshman, had 19 points for Baylor after two fouls early. Dunn finished with 17 to end his streak of seven consecutive 20-point games, including five this season since returning from a three-game suspension.
Carter added 13 points for Gonzaga and Sam Dower had 10.
Baylor’s biggest lead was 3-0 after Dunn hit a 3-pointer on the opening shot of the game. But Dunn, who entered the game shooting 53 percent from the field and averaging five 3-pointers a game, finished 4 of 13 while making only two 3s.
Dunn did have a nifty play with just under 8 minutes left when he drove, scooped the ball toward the rim and fell to the ground while scoring for a 47-46 lead. Carter responded with a 3-pointer for Gonzaga.
Gray sustained a sprained big toe late in the first of Thursday’s game, a 103-61 win over Lewis-Clark State College and didn’t return to that game. He never returned against Baylor after his fall in the first half.
Baylor had won 21 consecutive December games since 2006.
“Gonzaga really came up big and hit big shots. Carter hit the two big 3s and Kelly hitting his big three were really the difference in the game,” coach Scott Drew said. “This is a good game for us to learn from. … They executed better and mad big shots.”