And the story of the game was the first half. Their 14 and 8 points helped stave off the multitude of second half Wildcat surges.
Gonzaga dominated the first half 38-20, but NU played inspired basketball over the final 20 minutes, outscoring Gonzaga 53-41 and almost getting within striking distance of the lead before faltering late. Offensively, he entered the half coming off of three halves of NCAA Tournament basketball where he had shot just 2-13 for a combined five points and looked altogether overwhelmed around the basket and unsure of himself with the ball in his hands on the perimeter.
The Musketeers dominated the bigger and more athletic Seminoles inside, then put the game out of reach with superior 3-point shooting. But Glass said Northwestern would have made it decades ago had today's selection process been in place during his tenure. McIntosh drove the lane and dumped the ball to Pardon, who went up for a dunk.
Not only did it erase a bucket, but the call also led head coach Chris Collins to pick up a tech.
You might be thinking, "I'm not suer it's legal to stick your arm through the rim to block a shot". Goaltending is not one of the calls that are reviewable, so the call stood. There was no call, and Northwestern Coach Chris Collins, jawing with the officials all day, ran onto the court and was slapped with a technical foul.
What if they hadn't gone through a horrific shooting stretch when the 'Cats clanked 17 of 20 shots, including nine 3-point attempts, over almost a 14-minute span, allowing top-seeded Gonzaga to stage a 28-6 scoring spree and open up a 22-point spread (34-12) that still stood at 18 points, 38-20, at halftime? With just under five minutes remaining, and the Wildcats down by just five, a blown call seemed to swing the momentum significantly.
Moderators owned up to the missed call in a statement after the game and said this should have resulted in a basket for Northwestern.
The first half was a disaster: Northwestern has only itself to blame for digging such a big hole.
Looking to complete the comeback, the Wildcats got an offensive rebound and looked to lay the ball in.
Northwestern ended up losing 79-73, so the missed call could very well have affected the outcome.
Of course, the statement is of little consolation to the Northwestern team. The Wildcats were the aggressors, attacking the rim on offense and overplaying passing lanes to create steals on the other end.
However, instead of sulking about a game where the Wildcats once found themselves down 22 points in the first half and whittled down its deficit to a 5-point game late, the team found itself doing whatever it could to remember its first ride to the NCAA tournament. Law hit 3 triples and Taphorn hit both of his attempts in the second stanza. I thought we responded several different times to their runs throughout the second half. It was a deflating moment for the Wildcats, who were moving into a position to pull the upset.