The fortress that Gonzaga basketball detractors have hid behind for almost two decades came crashing to the ground Saturday night following an 83-59 thrashing of Xavier in the West Regional final. That attempt came up short as well, with Duke beating Gonzaga by 14 on the way to the national title. "It's hard to get where we are". "My first year on staff we won four Division I games".
It is impossible to underplay the historic meaning of that accomplishment, even in the wake of this program's remarkable 18-year climb up the college basketball ladder. Except they never really have.
The shortcomings in the past have been diverse but always painful. A cold-blooded three-pointer with less than a minute to go from Jordan Matthews got the Zags past the Mountaineers, whose best efforts at stopping Gonzaga in the clutch failed.
The jeers were immediate: "Frauds!"
If one of them should win the title, it would be the first for a school west of the MS in a decade, and the first by a true West Coast team since UCLA in 1995.
Gonzaga happens to be the best defensive team in the country. "Its not fair. It's not fair in December, it's not fair in January".
"Everybody was asking me is this your best team in November", Few said.
"They're 36-1, going to a Final Four", a victorious Few said from the postgame dais here Saturday.
It reached its sports pinnacle with minimal incident on Saturday.
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Everything is possible for a Gonzaga team that looked every bit the powerhouse that many were unwilling to concede them to be.
Not this time. Saturday was the Dogs' day. Williams-Goss (23 points) and Williams (19 points) led the charge on the stat sheet. Officials waived it off by a fraction of a second.
Gonzaga vs. Xavier prediction and game preview, as the No. 1 Bulldogs and No. 11 Musketeers face off in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Within 15 years, the school opened up a sparkling, $25-million, 6,000-seat arena, chartering flights for road games and recruiting trips. In their Sweet 16 loss, Arizona shot 7-of-27 (25.9 percent). At one point the 'Zags had hit 10 of 16 from behind the arc, laying waste to Xavier's zone defenses that gave its previous tourney opponents fits.
Heading into Saturday, 42 schools had made it to the Final Four at least once since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss then hit a floater in the lane and Xavier's J.P. Macura followed with an 80-foot shot that banked in, but was ruled too late after an officials' review.
Xavier advanced to the Elite Eight round with a gutsy 73-71 win over Arizona Basketball. When he touched the ball in the post, double and triple teams flooded his direction.
Xavier had no answer for him. Gaston would add the basket to his five-point total, to go along with three rebounds.
For Xavier, that meant another week of stories about Xavier's player development, another week of talking about how good of a coach Mack is, and another week of showcasing the perks that come with being a Xavier basketball player (chartered jets, custom Nike gear, team dinners, etc.). "He knows where everybody on his team is". Considering Xavier started the year in the preseason top ten. But it makes sense that the West Coast is so well represented, considering it's the first Final Four that far west since Seattle hosted in 1995.