Northwestern’s historic season and 2017 NCAA Tournament run are done, but what a ride it was.
The 8-seeded Wildcats lost top-seeded Gonzaga 79-73 in a second-round game in Salt Lake City on Saturday, fighting back from a 20-point second-half deficit to get to within 5 points before falling short. Playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the event’s 78[-year history, the Wildcats beat Vanderbilt in the first round and fought tough against top-seeded Gonzaga.
Northwestern-Gonzaga score from 2017 NCAA Tournament game: 79-73
Another record? 24 — as in wins, the most in Northwestern history. The Wildcats finish 24-11, Gonzaga (34-1) heads to the Sweet 16.
Bryant McIntosh scored 20 points to lead the Wildcats, with Vic Law adding 18. Gonzaga was led by Nigel Williams-Goss and his 20 points.
— NU Men's Basketball (@NUMensBball) March 18, 2017
Why Northwestern lost its 2017 NCAA Tournament game
After playing even with the Bulldogs at 6-6, the Wildcats surrendered the game’s next 12 points and trailed 18-6 just 9 minutes into the game. Northwestern, which struggled hitting its shots and posted just a 40.9 percent in the game, couldn’t mount any type of comeback in the opening 20 minutes, trailing 38-20 at the break. It proved to be too great a deficit to overcome.
Scottie Lindsey was just 1 of 7 from 3-point range, part of a woeful 8-of-24 night for the Wildcats beyond the arc. But Northwestern did make 11 of 13 free throws to earn crucial points in spots … but the Bulldogs made 23 of 26 from the charity stripe to help keep Northwestern at a distance.
The Wildcats also got some bad luck in the second half when a technical foul was called on coach Chris Collins as he argued a missed goaltending call (the NCAA confirmed after the game officials blew the call). It was a 5-point game with less than 5 minutes to play at the time.
This basket was denied, Chris Collins got T'd up, potential 5 to 6 point swing. This is just horrible. pic.twitter.com/qm6TqMiFKX
— Worth Blackwelder (@WorthBlackweld2) March 18, 2017
Chris Collins gets hit with a technical for coming onto the court while angry about a no-call. Not ideal, and the Zags hit the free throws.
— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) March 18, 2017
What the NCAA Tournament loss means to Northwestern basketball
Though the Wildcats are obviously disappointed to see their season end, there’s no shame in making the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the program’s first appearance. Plus, after trailing 41-20 early in the second half, the Wildcats could have folded and been happy to leave Salt Lake City with a win. But Northwestern battled, getting to within 63-58 on a Law dunk.
Now Collins and the Wildcats will try to build off a historic season.