Collins will have all but two of his players back next season.
The Bulldogs felt scrutiny all season as they climbed to the top ranking in the country and ripped off 29 straight wins before losing in their regular season finale to BYU. Then, Northwestern was about to cut the Zags' lead to one possession when Collins went up for a block. There were seasons when the North Siders had the talent to win it all but didn't, often because of a pervasive feeling that they had no business doing so. "I think I blocked a shot ... but I don't know". We were undefeated and we didn't feel any of that. "We have to live with them". "We all enjoy competing at the highest level".
Gonzaga got the credit it deserved this year - in the form of a No. 1 seed - for making its schedule as challenging as it could. The Bulldogs (34-1) prevailed despite scoring just four baskets over the final 13 minutes of the second half.
But when Pardon went up to the basket, NU was just one stop and one made shot from being tied with a presumptive tournament favorite.
To add salt to the wound, Chris Collins was called for a technical foul when he immediately objected to what was an obvious interference call. The NCAA released a statement afterward stating the officials missed the call. "Toward the end of the game, coach took me out, and I was trying to hold them in", Lumpkin said after the game.
Huggy Bear and his team had all they could handle with a resilient Bucknell team that kept it close until the very end.
"We just were playing for our lives", junior guard Bryant McIntosh said.
"It's the tournament", Collins, who had 12 points and three blocks in the second half, said.
The Northwestern coach was also wrong.
"Now I'll never have negative memories in this building", Bakamus said. "We had all the pieces to be special". I wanted to be a part of that first team to make it to the NCAA tournament. "But as the media's seen I've been pretty emotional the last couple weeks".
Northwestern could not get anything cooking on offense before halftime.
Things changed once those outside shots started falling in the second half. Gonzaga's defense was forcing turnovers and deflecting passes left and right early in the game. The Wildcats never drew closer than five points the rest of the way.
Collins' technical didn't help, but his "T" didn't blow the game for Northwestern either. "But there were other big plays. I wouldn't put it all on this technical". Both teams made adjustments and came out scoring with Northwest leading the charge. Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 27 points and eight rebounds, including a career-high four 3-pointers. "Replays showed that the Gonzaga defender violated this rule, which should have resulted in a scored basket by Northwestern". Williams-Goss quickly dialed up a basket from the perimeter on the other end. But most of all, I guess I'm just happy at Northwestern for being much better than I had ever hoped.
This time around, the Zags handed the keys to Karnowski's understudies, freshmen Zach Collins and Killian Tillie.