Maui, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - After getting upset in the opening round, the 11th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will attempt to rebound in the consolation round on Tuesday against tournament hosts, Chaminade.
Gonzaga beat Chaminade in the only previous meeting between the squads. The winner will go on to play either Arkansas or Minnesota in Wednesday's fifth- place game, while the losers will duke it out for seventh.
Gonzaga opened the season with an undefeated four-game homestand, registering wins over Bryant (100-76), Colorado State (93-61), Oakland (82-67) and Washington State (90-74) to support its preseason national ranking, but upon its arrival in Maui it was upended by Dayton in the opening round, 84-79. The Bulldogs appeared in control early, as they built up a lead as large as 16 points late in the first half, but Dayton chipped away at the deficit and eventually took a lead it would never surrender midway through the second half. The Bulldogs brought the game to one point, 78-77, on a Kevin Pangos layup with 28 seconds left, but the Flyers sealed the deal by draining 6-of-6 at the foul line down the stretch. Pangos nearly single-handedly brought his team back, scoring 27 points on 13-of-14 from the stripe. Sam Dower (18 points, seven rebounds) and Gary Bell, Jr. (12 points) were also impressive.
After Chaminade started the season 2-0 on opening weekend, it had more than a two-week layoff before participating in the opening round versus Baylor, and while it fought hard early and trailed by just three at the half, it was ultimately no match for the Bears as it fell by a 93-77 final. Despite the loss, Christophe Varidel shined on the national stage by shooting 14-of-29 from the field, including a blistering 10-of-16 from beyond the arc, on his way to a career-high 42 points. It was just one point shy of the tournament record set by Gonzaga's Adam Morrison in 2005. It was a rough night for the Silverswords otherwise, as no other player netted in double figures and they shot just 37.7 percent from the field as a team. Lee Bailey helped make up for a lackluster shooting performance (2-of-12) by tallying seven rebounds and five assists.
The Bulldogs have been outstanding on offense this season, as they rank seventh in the nation in field goal percentage (.541) and 10th in 3-pointers made per game (10.0), on their way to 88.8 points per game. Pangos has been outstanding in the early going with 20.4 points and 3.2 assists per game, and he's been nearly automatic from the free-throw line at 28-of-29. Bell, Jr. (15.2 ppg) has been on fire from beyond the arc, making more than 60 percent of his 28 long-range tries. Dower (13.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is a sturdy presence in the paint, while Przemek Karnowski (9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and David Stockton (7.2 pg, 5.8 apg) are also integral role players.
The Silverswords have also made a habit of big point totals in the season's first few weeks, averaging 80.3 points per game, although they rely on volume to get to that total, as they are making just 40.6 percent of their field goal tries. Varidel is not just a one-game wonder, as he has established himself as an elite scoring option with an average of 35.0 points per game. Kiran Shastri (10.0 ppg) is a solid second option coming off the bench. Bailey (7.3 ppg) hands out 4.7 assists per outing.