Timme Gonzaga led with 25 points and 7 rebounds, and Holmgren added 11 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks, but they weren’t getting enough help from their teammates.
“We needed Chet to stay there a little longer,” said little about Holmgren, who was not among the three Gonzaga players who attended the post-match press conference.
The rims at Chase Center weren’t quite as nice as Arkansas and Gonzaga as they are to the regular residents of the circuit – Stephen Curry, Clay Thompson and the rest of the Golden State Warriors. For much of the night, 3 heads rumbled off the rims and the runners took it. Neither team fired free throws with anything resembling efficiency.
When Gonzaga found himself trailing in the first half, 32-29, he was not an uncommon place in this tournament. The 16th-ranked Zags led Georgia State by just 4 points midway through the second half before winning in a defeat. They slipped past Memphis by 12 points early in the second half before narrowly collecting a victory.
The Zags team uncharacteristically had trouble registering with extensions.
The nation’s most effective attack went nearly four minutes without scoring in the first half, allowing Arkansas to recover from a 27-19 deficit, a period Gonzaga never recovered from. The culprit was intermittent 3-point shooting. Chet Holmgren, a 3-point shooter with 43.8 percent of the regular season, made only 2 of 16 3-pointers in Gonzaga’s five post-season games. Julian Strother, who featured in the tournament shooting 39.6 percent with three throws, had only 3-pointers in the tournament on Thursday and finished 1 to 14.
“At the end of the day, no matter how great a shooter you are, you’re going to miss shots,” Holmgren said on Wednesday. “You can’t lose confidence. I go to the gym every day and work on my shots, so the next time I shoot that shot, I know it’s going to come in.”
Holmgren, who is expected to be among the top picks in the NBA draft, faced an even more pressing problem against Arkansas – staying on the field.
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