Seattle, WA (AP) – Adam Morrison took the ball with his Gonzaga Bulldogs trailing by a point to the rugged Oklahoma State Cowboys and less than 10 seconds left. The nation’s leading scorer stood about 20 feet from the basket as the clock ticked down to 5 seconds.
The fact that he had missed eight of 13 shots in the game meant nothing to him. As he began his shot from behind the 3-point line, he saw it was about to be blocked by either Marcus Dove or David Monds, both of whom were running at his chin.
So Morrison calmly stepped back from both defenders and banked a 3-point shot high off the backboard with 2.5 seconds left to give Gonzaga (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) a wild 64-62 comeback win over the stunned Cowboys.
The game ended seconds later with Morrison in showman mode. Screaming teammates mobbed him from behind while he stretched both arms wide to the roaring home-state crowd. He finished with 25 points — four below his season average coming in — for Gonzaga (6-2).
“Morrison does such a good job moving without the ball, ” said Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, who is in his 36th year as a college head coach. “He’s like a throwback. He plays the way a lot of players used to. He’s terrific. ”
Mario Boggan finished with a career-high 19 to lead Oklahoma State (6-3), which led by 12 after the first possession of the second half. Team leader JamesOn Curry, the lone returning starter from a team that advanced to the final 16 of the NCAAs last spring, scored just two points.
The Cowboys have dropped two straight and are off to their worst start in seven seasons.
Oh, by the way: Morrison said he called “bank ” on his latest money shot.
“I had the angle, ” he said.
Bulldogs coach Mark Few said: “That’s what the best offensive player in America does at the end of a game. He makes a shot.
“Was it lucky? Yeah. But that kid makes shots, better than anybody in the country. ”
He wasn’t making much before that. Morrison earned every point against Dove, who continually ran through screens and stayed in Morrison’s face.
“I take the challenge of taking the best guy on the other team every game, ” said Dove, whose offense is hindered by a sore shooting hand.
Morrison felt that challenge. He said every time he dribbled “four guys were coming at me, collapsing. ”
The Cowboys matched Dove’s tenacity and turned much of the game into repeated scrums for the loose balls they kept forcing on Gonzaga possessions. They also harassed Bulldogs second-leading scorer J.P. Batista into 5-for-12 shooting inside, as the Gonzaga offense looked out of sync without injured point guard Derek Raivio.
Few called Oklahoma State “the toughest team, hand-to-hand, physically, that we played all year. ”
Morrison finally made a 3-pointer off a screen with 2:40 left over Dove to get Gonzaga within 60-59, the closest the Bulldogs had been since 5:40 remained in the first half.
It was Morrison’s first shot to go through the basket since 7 minutes were left in the opening half; his only previous field goal in the final period came on a goaltending call.
And when Batista made a shot from the low blocks with 1:20 remaining, Gonzaga had its first lead since 6:14 remained in the first half. Oklahoma State’s Jamaal Brown answered with two free throws to put the Cowboys back ahead, 62-61, with 47.2 seconds remaining — setting up Morrison’s amazing finish.
Six days earlier in the same city, Morrison missed a similar, step-back 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to go in a frantic loss to No. 13 Washington.
This time, it went in — but he insisted it was not his greatest last-minute shot. He cited a game-winning shot that beat San Francisco in Spokane last season as better than this ending.
“It was a big one, ” Morrison said, matter-of-factly, of Saturday’s shot. “But it wasn’t number one. It was just a big shot. “