A solemn Silas Melson sat at his locker, not quite ready to pull off the Gonzaga jersey he’s worn 150 times through the course of his career.
“I’m probably going to wear it for the next few hours,” Melson said.
Then the senior guard reflected on his four years in Spokane. Gonzaga fell short of a return to the Elite Eight on Thursday with a 75-60 loss to Florida State – something Melson and his teammates will lament simply because they believe the Seminoles didn’t get Gonzaga’s best game and they won’t have another chance to offer it.
They’ll lament it, sure, but Melson doesn’t want it to define the Zags.
“I’m not going to let this loss define any of us because we’vee been on a historic run the last four years and it happens, it’s a part of life,” Melson said. “You win games, you lose games, but I’m not going to sit here and say we’re just as good as the last game we played, because that’s not true at all.”
Melson leaves Gonzaga as a four-time WCC champion – both in the regular season and conference tournament – a national runner-up and a four-time participant in the Sweet 16. Only one other current player in college basketball can claim the latter: fellow Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins, though Perkins didn’t play in the 2015 tournament because of injury.
That makes Melson the only active player in college basketball who’s logged minutes in four consecutive Sweet 16s.
“It’s an honor to even be in the locker room with a lot of these guys,” Melson said. “It’s become a long way just to even make it to the second weekend, it’s impressive. When we lost the championship last year, nobody in the country was thinking Gonzaga would be back in the Sweet 16, two games away from the Final Four. To be able to do that, it’s a proud moment. … I’m happy for us all.”