Showing the defiance his team displayed in the second half, Northwestern coach Chris Collins left Vivint Smart Home Arena convinced Gonzaga's 79-73 victory Saturday came as a result of officials ignoring a goaltending call that led to a momentum-changing technical foul.
But you can make the argument that Chris Collins' ensuing technical cost NU just as dearly as the missed call. With help from 14 first half points from star guard Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga stretched its lead to 32-12, and never really looked back. The field goal should have been awarded, Gonzaga's lead should have been cut to three and with Mark Few's Bulldogs in complete meltdown mode, it felt like the game was going to be Northwestern's to lose.
Allonzo Trier, Arizona's leading scorer, scored all 14 of his points in the second half of a 69-60 Wildcats win over Saint Mary's. The Bulldogs (34-1) prevailed despite scoring just four baskets over the final 13 minutes of the second half. Then Gonzaga committed a blatant goaltend on the other end of the floor, hypothetically cutting the lead to three. This is what we live for, we prepare for and we enjoy doing.
"Just accomplishing one of the goals we've set for ourselves and making the tournament was an fantastic feeling", said guard Scottie Lindsey. I feel like this is just a building block.
There's more to the Crying Northwestern Kid story. They were limiting Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, each miles better than any Northwestern big man. The guy puts his hand through the rim.
He said this about an hour after, early in the second half, the former National Basketball Association player and coach and U.S. Olympian Doug Collins, from the first row, kindly had advised one of the officials that this would be that official's last NCAA game.
"I thought I blocked the shot and they thought it was a foul", he said. They're outstanding officials. They made the calls. Williams-Goss quickly dialed up a basket from the perimeter on the other end. For this to happen during my last year, for us to make it this far, the season we had, for everything to fall into place for my last year is a dream come true for me. They had been asked about their academic standards before their first-round game versus Vanderbilt - another renowned academic institution - and this week's midterm exams. He shot only 3 for 9 in the first half, part of a 30 percent shooting effort by the Wildcats, who made only 1 of 11 from 3-point range over the first 20 minutes. "We knew when faced them and saw them on television that they're a team that's going to be in this tournament". The Wildcats were in the tournament for the first time ever, and they made the second round.
One-seed Gonzaga advances to its third Sweet 16 in a row, and will face five-seed West Virginia in San Jose on Thursday.
Still, it was one heck of a comeback by Northwestern, which trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half.