Yeah, that was a blown interference call against Gonzaga

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

"You guys saw it". Willie acknowledged the sentiment with a hug.

In the early going, the Zags controlled. But Gonzaga returned to a Northwestern team that took advantage of almost every Zags mistake and miscue, clawing its way back to within six with a minute and a half to go.

A blatant missed goaltending call, a subsequent technical foul on Chris Collins, and commendable poise and execution down the stretch from a veteran Bulldogs team meant that the Wildcats' season ended in a 79-73 loss to the West Region's No. 1 seed. Silver Sharpies made their way from player to player, each one signing his name on another's chosen artifact.

Of course, the statement is of little consolation to the Northwestern team.

"I was trying to find something different", he said of playing without an undershirt.

"We've just got to come into practice today, work on free throws, work on executing, less turnovers, and get the game plan down for Xavier", FSU guard Dwayne Bacon said.

I spent enough time last night peeved with Jay Williams for criticizing Gonzaga's locker room celebration after the game.




"In all of these games, I feel like Northwestern has had the most fans", sophomore forward Vic Law said. You'll be like every other fan base that thinks it got jobbed somehow. This is such a special moment. "That's probably the first time I've ever experienced that kind of defense".

It was hard not rooting for the Wildcats.

Trevon Bluiett had a game-high 29 points for the Musketeers (23-13), who will be making their sixth appearance in the Sweet 16 over the past decade. Down 36-21 at halftime, the Wildcats made a game out it. But Northwestern kept fighting. "And look, there's a lot of basketball to be played, but I do believe in my heart that if that's called correctly, we would've had a great chance to win". While he had a right to be upset, Chris Collins had been flirting with a tech all game with some of his sideline protestations, and the refs rightfully had enough when he ran onto the court. The NCAA released a statement afterward stating the officials missed the call. Williams-Goss was a non-factor until late exchanges at the free throw line, hitting just one of his nine field goal attempts and turning the ball over three times, unable to shake Law off the dribble or hit over his lengthy and well-timed contests. That was just as inexcusable as Collins charging the floor, bad followed by worse. It is what it is.

Collins, as could be expected, was appreciative of the NCAA's apology. While that was a daunting task in of itself, the Wildcats had to fight against something else - tournament officiating.

It wasn't exactly the storybook ending that the team had hoped for, but even in the ashes of its season, there remained an optimistic outlook on the future.

Lumpkin is one of two players on the roster whose tenures predate Collins' - the other being Nathan Taphorn, who committed to Carmody before the coaching change and stuck with Collins in his first season.

"We're always going to attack inside out", said assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, who compiled the scouting report.

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