It didn't take long to realize what the final outcome of tonight's game would be as the Gonzaga Bulldogs took on the Arizona Wildcats. After making the games opening basket, the Zags committed 4 turnovers in the first 5 minutes which led to Arizona getting out to a 13-6 lead at the first TV timeout. From that point on, it was a pretty simple storyline. Let's take a look at some of the things that stood out in this one as the Wildcats cruised to a 84-61 win:
- Turnovers were the defining factor of this game. While Gonzaga was sloppy throughout, I can't help but admit how blown away I was by Arizona. For all the chatter about how tough and defensive-minded Virginia and Michigan State are, I have to say tonight's effort by the Wildcats was the most complete I have seen. In total, Gonzaga turned the ball over a whopping 21 times. Virtually everyone contributed to the turnover statline tonight, which was led by David Stockton. The senior guard had 6 turnovers while Kevin Pangos and Sam Dower had 4 turnovers, apiece. It got to the point where even the simplest pass looked like it was going to be taken the other way.
- Super hard to pick out single players from tonight's game but it was disappointing to see Gary Bell finish the season in this fashion. Bell was the catalyst in the Bulldogs win over Oklahoma State, scoring 17 points, but he was held scoreless tonight and only attempted four shots. We had really looked forward to the Gary Bell v. Nick Johnson matchup and while Bell did an admirable job defending Johnson, he was never comfortable out there tonight.
- Sam Dower ends his Gonzaga career with a very disappointing 2014 NCAA Tournament. Basically absent against Oklahoma State, Dower was outmatched by Aaron Gordon and the rest of the Wildcats. He finished 3-12 from the floor with just 7 points. He pulled in 8 rebounds but, when the Bulldogs needed some offensive production, Dower could not find his shot.
- If you want to look for positives, which I'm sure most don't, I think the NCAA Tournament could be a jumping off point for Przemek Karnowski. The big fella scored 14 points and pulled in 10 rebounds in tonight's loss and was the one Bulldog to look somewhat comfortable out there tonight.
We'll have much more on this one and our broader perspective on the season but I will admit that this team really impressed me over the past month. Following a couple losses in late February, it would have been easy for this team to roll over and accept an NIT berth but they continued to battle, won the conference regular season and tournament, and won a game in the NCAA Tournament. While there will of course be comments about how the Zags once again failed to advance to the second weekend, it would be hard for me to label this postseason as a failure considering how things looked at various points this season.
Lastly, I want to throw out a very heartfelt thank you to all the readers for another fantastic season on the site. We really hope you enjoyed our coverage this year and the good news is that it is recruiting time...and time for us to get anxious for the next crop of Zags. As always, the future is bright, and we are excited for what is to come.