USA TODAY Sports’ Dan Wolken recaps how one of two programs that have displayed consistent excellence finally will get to play in a Final Four.
USA TODAY Sports
SAN JOSE — When your team makes just 16 of 60 shots from the field, it’s hard to pin the loss on the officials. But after No. 4 seed West Virginia shot just 22.6% from the field in a 61-58 loss to No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Thursday, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins seemed at a loss himself.
“Let me try to put this as succinctly as I can,’’ he said. “My dad, you know my dad was a helluva coach. My dad is in every hall of fame there is in Ohio. And my dad used to tell me there’s a game within a game. And I’m like, I don’t understand what that means.
“He said, ‘Well, there’s a lot of things you have to adjust to. You have to adjust to their personnel. You have to adjust to their scheme of things, what they’re trying to do. And then you have to adjust how the game’s going to be called.’ ’’
And this one was going to be called tight.
West Virginia would be whistled for 25 fouls, Gonzaga would be whistled for 26 and, unfavorably, that slowed the Mountaineers.
Noting that his team has adjusted to officiating throughout the season, Huggins said, “There’s times we’ve backed off because you don’t want a continual parade to the foul line. So you have to back off some. And you know sometimes you can go at it a little harder.
“It’s not as black as white as people would like to think it is.’’
But West Virginia fans were incensed after one non-call: When with 64 seconds left and West Virginia led 58-57, Virginia’s Nathan Adrian missed a layup while appearing to draw contact from a Gonzaga defender.
Instead of Adrian going to the foul line, Gonzaga scooped up the rebound, sped down the court and Jordan Matthews hit the go-ahead three-pointer.
Did Adrian think he got fouled on the layup?
“Doesn’t really matter if I did or not,’’ he said. “They didn’t call it, so …”
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