An improbable, incredible and historic run for the USC basketball team ended with a 77-73 loss to Gonzaga at the Final Four in Phoenix. The game was a microcosm of the Gamecocks postsseason. They fell behind early and looked like they might be in serious trouble before they fought back in the second half to take a lead. Only this time there wasn’t a happy ending.
The Gamecocks went on a 16-0 2nd half run to turn a 14 point hole into a two point lead. It looked like Cinderella’s slipper was going to stay on for another game. But Gonzaga showed why it spent a good chunk of the season ranked number one and why they earned a number one seed. They answered with a 7-0 run to claim a five point lead that the Gamecocks managed to chip back down to two points, but could never reclaim the lead.
Just like that the journey was over. After the game Frank Martin sat down for his press conference and was overcome with emotion. It wasn’t the end of the run that crushed him his time with this team and players like Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie and Duane Notice was over. “They are part of my life forever,” Martin said, with tears running down his cheeks.
Frank Martin gets emotional talking about his team and their legacy:
Those tears weren’t because of the loss, heartbreaking as it was. The emotion was Martin coming to grips that he will never coach that same team again. That same group of players will never suit up together again.
Frank Martin, Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozer and Duane Notice discuss loss to Gonzaga
Martin knows he will be losing his three seniors, he will have to wait a bit to find out if there will be any other attrition. PJ Dozier plans to take the next few weeks to contemplate if he wants to declare for the NBA Daft . Chris Silva is another guy who could, potentially, take a look at turning pro.
Regardless of what happens though, this team and Martin will long be remembered as one of, if not the best in school history. A program that had not won an NCAA Tournament game in 44 years went to the Final Four. Will they be back again soon? Who knows. But what is certain is Martin has changed the Gamecock basketball program and left a mark that will last forever.