LOS ANGELES -- Mark Few was eager to find out how his team would respond just two days removed from a rare lopsided conference loss.
Thrown into another tough road environment, the Gonzaga coach was pleased with the resolve his players showed.Elias Harris scored 19 points and Gary Bell added 16 to help Gonzaga (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) beat Loyola Marymount 62-58 on Saturday night.The Bulldogs were coming off an 83-62 defeat to Saint Mary's on Thursday in what was the most one-sided West Coast Conference setback in Few's 13 years at the helm."In bounce-back games you find out a lot about your character, your heart, your toughness, your confidence," Few said. "Your confidence can get a little sapped and our guys didn't do that."Kevin Pangos overcame a rough shooting night to score nine points and Robert Sacre had eight for the Bulldogs (14-3, 4-1 WCC), who pulled away early in the second half to avoid a second straight upset."It feels good to finish the road trip with a W and get our confidence back, especially after that weak performance on Thursday," Harris said.Ashley Hamilton had 16 points and LaRon Armstead added 14 for Loyola Marymount (10-8, 3-2), which made just six shots after halftime.The Lions were gunning for a third win over a ranked opponent this season but were done in by making just 6 of 21 shots following the intermission."We were ineffective offensively and we were letting it bleed into our defense," LMU coach Max Good said. "You can't drop your head for a split second against them. Their just too good, they take advantage of you."The Bulldogs outscored LMU 38-20 in the paint to overcome some cold shooting from distance. They made just 2 of 13 3-point attempts.Gonzaga went ahead by as many as 11 in the second half but saw that lead cut to 58-57 on a dunk by Hamilton with less than 2 minutes to play. After Drew Viney missed a leaner that would have given the Lions the lead, the long rebound was tracked down by Gonzaga.Pangos worked the clock down and found Harris cutting along the baseline for an up-and-under layup that made it 60-57 with 8 seconds to go.Gonzaga elected to prevent a game-tying 3-point attempt and sent Anthony Ireland to the line. He made the first and missed the second. Pangos came up with the ball following a scrum under the basket and was fouled.With 1.5 seconds left, Pangos made a pair from the line for the four-point lead."We've all been there before," said Harris of the hectic finish. "The best thing to do is keep your poise."Pangos, who entered averaging a team-high 14.1 points, was held scoreless on one shot attempt in the first half. He went 1 of 6 for the game and hit all six of his free throws.Gonzaga trailed by two at halftime but opened the second with a 9-0 run. Bell hit a jumper, Sacre and Mike Hart had layups and Pangos hit a 3 for his first points of the game and a 41-34 lead.The Lions went scoreless for over 6 minutes to open the half but got on the board with Armstead's free throws to cut it to 41-36. Harris then had back-to-back dunks and the Bulldogs scored six straight points to make it 47-36."You come up empty and you come up empty, and it takes its toll," Good said.Ireland made a jumper and Hamilton split a pair of free throws as LMU climbed back to 54-53. Pangos hit two from the stripe on the other end to make it 56-53 in favor of Gonzaga.The Lions had a chance to tie things on two occasions but turned the ball over twice. Pangos then hit two more free throws to extend the lead to 58-53 with 3:16 remaining.LMU knocked off a pair of ranked foes earlier in the season by beating then-No. 17 UCLA on Nov. 11 and then-No. 23 St. Louis a few weeks later.Gonzaga continued its dominance of the all-time series, having now won five in a row and 33 of the past 36 meetings.