GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Gonzaga broke through its Final Four ceiling, added to it by reaching the national championship game. The Zags figured while they’re here, might as well win the whole thing.
A flurry of whistles and missed shots left them one step short.
Plagued by foul trouble and an inability to hit shots in a foul-filled second half, Gonzaga lost its bid for the program’s first national championship in an ugly 71-65 loss to North Carolina on Monday night.
“I don’t think any of us think we played our absolute best game and that hurts,” Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said.
The Zags reached the big stage with the best team in Mark Few’s 18 seasons, a mix of established players, talented transfers and a sterling recruiting class.
Gonzaga was efficient on offense, as it always seems to be, and added a dash of gritty defense, the piece that had always been missing.
The Zags reached the Final Four for the first time this season, ending more than a decade of you’re-overrated criticism.
Gonzaga had to grind out a victory over a physical South Carolina team in the national semifinals and faced another ugly one against the blue-blooded Tar Heels, exacerbated by a shower of second-half foul calls by the officials.