Duke was ahead by 14 and Gonzaga had but two seconds left. Kevin Pangos took a final, emphatic, frustrated dribble, and the horn sounded on the Blue Devils’ 66-52 victory. It ended the careers of three Gonzaga seniors — Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and USC transfer Byron Wesley.
HOUSTON — Duke was ahead by 14, its final margin, and Gonzaga had but two seconds left. Kevin Pangos took a final, emphatic, frustrated dribble, and the horn sounded on the Blue Devils’ 66-52 victory.
It ended the careers of three Gonzaga seniors — Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and USC transfer Byron Wesley.
Pangos and Bell leave with a four-year record of 122-20, setting a record as the winningest senior class in school history.
“It meant everything,” Bell said. “This is something you dream of, to play on this stage, the final eight teams playing college basketball.”
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Echoed Pangos: “It meant everything. Best team, best group of guys, best coaching staff. It was an awesome four years. We obviously would have loved to experience a Final Four, but we just fell short.”
Duke’s defense didn’t allow their finish to be memorable. Bell was 2 for 6 for five points, and Pangos 2 of 8, without a three or an assist, and three turnovers.
Kyle Dranginis, who came in with Pangos and Bell but redshirted as a freshman, said: “Those guys are two of the best guards ever to come through Gonzaga. It’s going to be weird not to have another chance to play with them. It’s been an awesome, amazing journey.”
Zags coach Mark Few said he felt Duke turned up its defensive game in the South Regional, saying, “We watched them in the ACC tournament (on tape) and quite frankly, they weren’t getting after it like that. The effort wasn’t quite as good as what we saw last game (Utah) or tonight.
“They took it up a couple of notches and it showed. It was hard generating baskets.”
The Zags, the No. 1 shooting team in the nation, scored only 14 points in the final 16 minutes, including a eight-possession drought after they took their biggest lead of the game at 38-34. Included were three consecutive misses on three-pointers.
“That little sequence right there sticks out in my head,” said Few. “Those are threes we’ve been making all year.”
• Gonzaga’s three victories in the NCAA tournament are a relative windfall for the West Coast Conference, projected to be about $4,680,000 in the NCAA’s six-year rolling window.
Conferences are due $260,525 per unit — or games played — over a six-year stretch. That figure likely will increase somewhat during that period, but each extra game in 2015 would be worth at least $1.56 million total over that period.
Pac-12 representation, which combined to go 8-4, was eliminated with Arizona’s loss to Wisconsin. The league would figure to realize $18,720,000 over that six-year stretch, divided among the membership.
• Few was dismayed at the early foul trouble of Przemek Karnowski, who got his second with 11:45 left in the first half and sat until halftime. “Przemek picked up two cheap ones,” Few said. “Those impacted the game from our point of view.”
• Duke point guard Tyus Jones was named outstanding player of the region, joined on the all-tournament team by Blue Devils Justise Winslow and Matt Jones and Zags Kyle Wiltjer and Domas Sabonis.
• Wiltjer, a fourth-year junior, was asked if he was committed to returning to what should be another talented GU team. “Of course,” he said. “I’ve got one more year of eligibility.”