Gonzaga vs. Arkansas score: No. 1-seeded Zags fall short of title again in upset Sweet 16 loss to Razorbacks
The betting favorite to win the NCAA Tournament was eliminated from March Madness after Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed overall, fell to No. 4 Arkansas 74-68 on Thursday in the Sweet 16. Zags the second No. 1 at home. seeded in the tournament and crushes their chances of redemption after finishing second national a season ago.
Gonzaga ends the year with 28 wins and four losses in what has been a dominant season for the WCC champions, however, his extinction comes after a lackluster performance in the tournament. It started slow against No. 16 seed Georgia State in the first round and again against No. 9 seed Memphis in the second round before flipping the second-half switch in both games to advance. Arkansas, however, had the wherewithal to hold them off, as they took the lead with 18:09 in the second half and didn’t give it up.
“Defensively, we played so well,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said as he broke down the win after holding Gonzaga to 37.5% shooting from the floor – his second-lowest rate of all time. the season. “I think we did a great job of forcing turnovers. We took out a lot of their ups and downs, which was hugely important to us. And then Trey Wade’s points were huge when we needed them.”
“They were physical in all five places,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the game in a CBS interview. “We actually had looks that we liked, took good shots, but we just didn’t play. Arkansas deserves a lot of credit. That defense is real. We were never really able to generate good consistent rhythm against her.”
The Razorbacks got a Herculean effort from All-SEC star JD Notae, who scored a team-high 21 points to lead the way on 29 field goal attempts, tied for fourth in an NCAA Tournament game for one. winning player since the 3 -point era began. Backcourt teammate Trey Wade and big man Jaylin Williams each had 15 points apiece to contribute to the upset. It marked the program’s second straight appearance in the Elite Eight after a 25-year drought and gave them their first NCAA Tournament win over a No. 1 seed.
Gonzaga star Drew Timme showed up again to try and play superhero, scoring 25 points including 17 in the second half. However, co-star Chet Holmgren – the frontrunner to be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft – has been unable to make a significant impact thanks to reprehensible issues that have plagued him. and may have ultimately submarined the Zags’ chances of advancing. . Holmgren had zero points at halftime and finished with just 11 before committing a foul after just 23 minutes of action. Gonzaga’s backcourt also struggled against the Arkansas defense, with Andrew Nembhard making 2 of 11 shots, Julian Strawther 3 of 9 and Rasir Bolton 3 of 10.
“I think sometimes outside people who aren’t part of our program can label [us] like national championship or bust,” Few said. “Obviously we wanted to go all the way and win, but we understand how difficult that is. We just couldn’t do it against Arkansas tonight.”
Arkansas will advance to the Elite Eight where they will face the winner of the No. 2 seed Duke and the No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Saturday with a Final Four berth on the line.