In their worst loss of the season, Gonzaga was trounced by UConn 82-54. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, this was an embarrassing beat down for Gonzaga fans. Drew Timme led Gonzaga with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Julian Strawther chipped in 11. UConn was led by Jordan Hawkins with 20 points, Adama Sanogo has 10 point, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Gonzaga started very tight hitting only one of their first nine shot attempts including air-balling two three-point shots (Bolton and Watson). UConn decided to feed their big Sanogo, who scored six of their first ten points.
Just like against Kentucky’s Tshiebwe, Anton Watson would guard Sanogo who was held scoreless for the rest of the half. He may not have scored, but he did distribute five first half assists. When Gonzaga double-teamed him, rotations were slow picking up the cutter giving UConn several easy baskets.
As with UCLA, Hickman and Bolton were ineffective in the first half going one for six from the field. Few inserted Sallis, Smith and Gregg during the first media time-out and the Gonzaga offense did look better taking their first lead 22-21. Timme was troubled by two early travel calls but was still able to drop nine first half points. Julian Strawther missed all three of his three-point attempts but did nail four floaters to keep the game close.
UConn took a 39-32 lead into the locker room after their freshman forward Alex Karaban nailed a trey to end the half.
The first minute of the second half couldn’t have been worse for Gonzaga. Watson did strip Sanogo on UConns first possession, but Timme tried to lead the break picking up his third foul on a charge. UConn’s Karaban scored on a floater, a Strawther missed trey was followed by UConn making one from deep and the lead was extended to 12.
Less than two minutes later, Timme picked up his fourth foul in and off-ball push after a Sanogo miss. Timme took a seat, Few yelled at the refs, then the wheels came off for Gonzaga as UConn extended their lead to 18. Timme returned after three minutes, but it was too little, too late.
UConn just rolled for the rest of the second half. Gonzaga couldn’t make baskets in garbage time and it felt like UConn couldn’t miss. With five minutes left to play, Gonzaga was three for 21 in the second half shot attempts as UConn extended their lead to 33. Gonzaga ended the game shooting two for 20 from deep, 20 for 60 from the field and 55% from the line. UCONN on the other hand has won their four NCAA Tournament games by a total of 90 points.
UConn emptied their bench with just over three minutes left to play including San Diego Torero transfer Joey Calcaterra, who enjoyed his first victory against the Zags after five years. Timme left the court with two minutes to play amid hugs from the coaching staff.
For the third year in a row, an emotional win against UCLA is followed by a Gonzaga loss. Two years ago it was Baylor, last year Duke and this year UConn.
It’s going to be a tough off-season for Gonzaga fans. As tearful Julian Strawther and Drew Timme left the floor tonight, the Law of Recency will leave this game burned into the fan’s minds for the next five months.
Gonzaga took the nation’s longest winning streak into this game (12 games). Their 31-win season and making it to the Elite Eight belie their early season troubles when a 5-3 record had even the most ardent fans wondering “what is wrong with Gonzaga”.
The next few days will be full of armchair coaches certain they can tell you what went wrong and how the team could have been better, disregarding how truly great this team was and how incredible the season has been. Watching Drew Timme and Julian Strawther perform has been amazing. I’ll miss Rasir Bolton, his smile, enthusiasm and contributions to the community. Here’s hoping we get another year of the phenomenal Anton Watson and Malachi Smith. Lastly, you know Mark Few is going to reload. GO ZAGS!!!