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 kind to 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 most of the night, 3 heads rumbled off the rims and the runners removed them. 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 trailed Memphis by 12 points early in the second half before clinching a narrow 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, which allowed Arkansas to recover from a 27-19 deficit, a stretch Gonzaga never recovered from. The culprit was intermittent 3-point shooting. Chet Holmgren, a 3-point shooter with 43.8 percent in 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.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”