CAREY J. WILLIAMS, Associated Press
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — It was a West Coast road trip that Oakland would like to soon forget.
After losses to No. 12 North Carolina and No. 24 UCLA, Duke Mondy and Dante Williams were suspended from the team. Then the Grizzlies still had to face California of the Pac-12 and travel to No. 15 Gonzaga.
But coach Greg Kampe wasn’t making any excuses after an 82-67 loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday.
“I told Mark (Few) if he’d have us back, I would love to come back. This is what college basketball is supposed to be about,” he said.
Travis Bader scored 22 for Oakland (0-4), Tommy McCune had 17, and Mitch Baenziger added 11 before fouling out with 3 minutes left. Oakland only had eight players because Williams and Mondy were sent back to Michigan.
“We’re going to make a decision (about the suspensions) this week,” Kampe said. “They’re going to come back. In essence what they did wrong was that they broke curfew.”
Bader had a 3-point duel with Kevin Pangos, but the Bulldogs got the best of Oakland.
Pangos made a steal, leading to a momentum-changing dunk by Sam Dower, got hit in the head and had to briefly leave the game with 17 minutes remaining.
He came back in and sank two 3-pointers to push the Gonzaga 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 added 15 points, Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 and Przemek Karnowski had 12 for Gonzaga (3-0).
Mitch Baenziger made Oakland’s fourth 3-pointer of the second half to trim the lead to 63-55 with 7:28 left. But consecutive 3s by Pangos and Drew Barham put Gonzaga up 69-55 before Bader answered with his fifth make from behind the arc.
“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 in each game 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.”
Knotted at 6, Gonzaga nailed three straight 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, the third straight Oakland make from behind the arc, made it 34-27 with 4 minutes remaining. Bader made three of Oakland’s final four shots of the first half, all 3-pointers, and the Grizzlies trailed 39-30 at halftime.
“This is the craziest place I’ve probably ever played,” Bader said.
The Gonzaga student section chanted “Justin Bieber!” at Bader during warm-ups.
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.”
Mondy, who led the NCAA in steals (100) last season, and Williams have been suspended by the team after being arrested last Thursday in Southern California. Prosecutors declined to press charges because of a lack of evidence. A woman alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by the two men. The school it would conduct an internal investigation.
It was game four of a seven-game road swing for Oakland. The Grizzlies’ first home game is against Rochester College on Nov. 30. Oakland faced its third ranked team in four games and still has to face Indiana and No. 2 Michigan State in December.
“We put this gauntlet schedule in front of us and we had an incident,” Kampe said. “I think this team has come together, we are going to get by it, through it, and I think this team is going to have a very special year.”
Kampe is in his 30th season at the helm of Oakland, the third-longest tenure behind Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski. Few has been at Gonzaga for 25 years.
Gonzaga has only lost once in the month of November at the McCarthey Athletic Center, against San Diego State on Nov. 16, 2010.
“This was the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last year and I think if you asked the, they felt that we played with them,” Kampe said. “We didn’t beat ’em, but we played with them.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)