KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Gonzaga stopped a rare two-game losing streak by getting in a zone -- a 2-3 zone.
Steven Gray scored 20 points and the Bulldogs (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) beat Marquette 66-63 on Tuesday night in the third-place game of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.
The Bulldogs (3-2) lost to then-No. 25 San Diego State 79-76 last week and to No. 4 Kansas State 81-64 in the semifinals on Monday, a rare losing blowout.
The zone made the difference as the Bulldogs held Marquette well below the 50 percent shooting mark they allowed in the losses.
"We've always played a lot of zone especially early in our seasons and sometimes late in our seasons," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "I've been kicking myself on getting away from it a little bit. Today I was telling myself that I had to have more of a conviction to stay in it a little bit. We strung some stops together. Our guys were more comfortable in it. We talked in timeouts and they wanted to stay in our 2-3."
"I thought E [Harris] was terrific tonight," Few said. "It was a great sign for us to get those guys back [Harris and Arop], getting those guys back playing the way we want them to play. He hasn't had one of those yet for us, so hopefully he'll keep it going."
Jimmy Butler, who finished with 22 points, had a chance to tie the game but his long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded was well off the mark and the Golden Eagles had their second straight loss after losing 82-77 to No. 1 Duke in the semifinals.
The Golden Eagles finished 21 of 54 from the field (38.9 percent), including going 6 of 21 from 3-point range (28.6 percent). But even more impactful than the poor shooting was that Gonzaga finished with a 44-28 advantage on the boards, including 17-8 on the offensive end.
"In the second half, they scored 10 baskets and shot 28 percent from the field. Of those 10 baskets, seven of them were on offensive putbacks," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "That's definitely why we got beat in the second half. In the second half they scored zero points in transition."
Gray had an off game against Kansas State, finishing with 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting, 1 of 5 on 3s, and six turnovers. He was better than that in the first half alone against Marquette, scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 5 of 7 on 3s, without a turnover.
Gray said he didn't notice any change in how Marquette covered him over the final 20 minutes.
"Shots just weren't dropping in the second half," he said, then was interrupted by Few.
"The coach is playing him too many minutes (38 total and all 20 in second half). Because the coach doesn't feel comfortable without him on the floor."
Gonzaga led 42-33 at halftime but Gray wasn't going to be the man in the second it would be Arop, a 6-foot-6 sophomore. He had 10 points -- all in a 4:40 span -- and all of them were big.
Three times Marquette scored to get within seven points and each time Arop scored on an offensive rebound to build the lead.
Gonzaga had a 3-minute scoreless drought late in the game and Marquette was able to get within 65-63 on a 3-pointer by Butler with 43 seconds to go. Gray was dribbling the ball near midcourt running off some time when he was double-teamed and it looked like it would be at least a jump ball -- Gonzaga had the possession arrow -- but a foul was called on Darius Johnson-Odom.
Gray made one free throw with 12.6 seconds left for the three-point lead.
"That one was huge," Gray said of the free throw. "I just tried to step up and relax and missed it long which is probably a change from years past. My tendency is to shoot it short and tighten up. I missed the first one and said the second one has to drop."
After three timeouts, two by Gonzaga, Marquette was finally able to inbound the ball with 2.5 seconds left. Butler inbounded the ball to Jae Crowder and got it back for the final shot that missed.
"I didn't want to call a timeout because I think it is easier to play against a defense that is in transition as opposed to playing a set defense," Williams said of the timeout he called as Johnson-Odom was headed toward the basket. "I am not going to call a timeout make or miss and I ended up calling the timeout because I did not think we were getting anything good. Two-and-a-half seconds left, shot out of bounds, I thought that we would end up getting a better shot than the shot that I knew DJ [Johnson-Odom] was about to shoot."
Gonzaga finished with 17 turnovers but Marquette was only able to get 14 points off them.
Johnson-Odom had 13 points and Crowder added 10 for Marquette.
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