NCAA Elite Eight Recap: Gonzaga Ends Historic Season Against Duke


A season-ending loss can overshadow the work of an entire season.

That was the case for Gonzaga (35-3), who was seeking their first Final Four appearance in school history. Duke (33-4) proved to be too much for the Zags down the stretch, as the Blue Devils pushed to a 66-52 victory in the Elite Eight.

The box score is a little confusing at first glance. The Zags shot 44% to Duke’s 37.5% and out-rebounded the Blue Devils 35-31. How did Duke win?

The stat that stands out the most is turnovers. Gonzaga committed 13 of them off of eight Blue Devil steals. Duke took advantage of those turnovers and converted them into 17 points. The Zags had just two points off of three Duke turnovers. There are many factors that influences who wins a game of basketball, but this seemed to be the most noticeable.

Gonzaga started the game well with a Byron Wesley layup off a Przemek Karnowksi assist. However, Tyus Jones helped lead a run that built Duke’s lead to 11 with 11:45 to go in the first half. However, the Zags went on a bit of a run to get within five at halftime.

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They continued their run at the start of the second half. The Zags built a four-point lead after a Wesley converted a free throw on a three-point play. It would be their last lead.

Gonzaga had a five minute stretch without scoring. Duke regained the lead and led by 43-38 with 11:36 left. Just when Duke l0oked to seal the game, the Zags responded and were only down two with 5:43 remaining.

However, Kyle Wiltjer missed a point-blank layup. That proved to be the turning point of the game, as the momentum from a pro-Duke crowd pushed them to victory.

Many Zags fans are disappointed, but let’s not forget the season Gonzaga had. They accumulated 35 wins, which is the most single season wins in program history. They went back to the Elite Eight for the first time since their 1999 Cinderalla run that started it all. The future looks bright for Gonzaga.