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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Few’s first 20: Taking a look back at Mark Few’s NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach of Gonzaga

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

After having to bow out of 2020 NCAA Tournament – at no fault of their own – the Gonzaga Bulldogs are set to return to March Madness again.

Under Mark Few, the Zags have never missed a Big Dance, with this season marking 21 consecutive appearances.

Here is how the Bulldogs have fared in their previous 20 tournament appearances.

2000: Sweet 16

Year 1 of the streak saw the Zags head to the McKale Center in Arizona as a No. 10 seed after beating Pepperdine in overtime in the West Coast Conference finals.

In the first round, GU took down No. 7 Louisville 77-66 despite a season-high 24 turnovers.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few directs his team during its 82-76 win over St. John’s in an NCAA West regional second-round game in Tucson, Ariz., on March 18, 2000.  (Associated Press)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few directs his team during its 82-76 win over St. John’s in an NCAA West regional second-round game in Tucson, Ariz., on March 18, 2000. (Associated Press)

Richie Frahm scoreed 31 points and the Bulldogs clamped down on defense, allowing the Cardinals to shoot only 38% from the floor.

In the second round, the Zags upset No. 2 St. John’s of the Big East Conference 82-76 as Matt Santangelo scored 26 points with five assists and four rebounds.

St. John’s had reeled off 12 wins in 13 games prior to the loss.

In the program’s second Sweet 16 appearance, GU was matched up with sixth-seeded Purdue, which had just beaten No. 3 Oklahoma.

The Bulldogs’ run was ended in New Mexico at The Pit at the hands of the Boilermakers, 75-66.

Casey Calvary led the Zags with 20 points.

2001: Sweet 16

After an 80-77 win over Santa Clara in the WCC finals in San Diego, the Zags were seeded No. 12 after finishing the regular season 24-6.

They headed to Memphis, Tennessee, to take on No. 5 Virginia in the Memphis Pyramid.

It was another classic March Madness result as Calvary grabbed Dan Dickau’s blocked shot and put up the winner with 9.2 seconds left for an 86-85 victory. Another upset for the upstart Bulldogs.

Dickau led GU with 29 points and five assists.

The Zags advanced to play No. 13 Indiana State, which had upset No. 4 Oklahoma.

This time it was Calvary who led the team with 24 points and seven assists to help the Zags to their third Sweet 16 appearance in as many seasons with an 85-68 win over the Sycamores.

A date with top-seeded Michigan State followed, but again, the Zags couldn’t get over the hump, falling 77-62 to the Spartans.

It was another example of the physically smaller Bulldogs struggling against an athletically superior team.

Dickau led the Zags with 19 points, but he only shot 1 for 8 from inside the arc.

2002: First round

After beating Pepperdine 96-90 in the conference final, the Zags entered the NCAA Tournament ranked for the first time in school history (No. 6).

Logically, that would place the Zags as a No. 2 seed, but the NCAA Selection Committee has its own metrics.

Instead, GU was handed a sixth seed and a matchup with No. 11 Wyoming, which proved to be its downfall.

The Bulldogs were upset 73-66 as Dickau had one of his worst shooting performances of the season – he still scored 26 points on 7-for-24 shooting – and Cory Violette was the only other Zag who scored in double figures.

2003: Second round

For the first time in this streak, the Bulldogs lost 72-63 in the WCC final to San Diego. They were seeded No. 9 and faced No. 8 Cincinnati in the first round in Salt Lake City.

Ronny Turiaf poured in 22 points, aided by a school record-tying 16 made free throws, and the Bulldogs knocked off Bob Huggins’ Bearcats 74-69.

A matchup with No. 1 Arizona in the second round was one for the ages and broke the hearts of Zag Nation.

A 96-95 double-overtime loss was nearly a win after Tony Skinner missed an open 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to play. Skinner led the Bulldogs with a career-high 25 points.

2004: Second round

Two years prior, the Bulldogs had been handed a No. 6 seed after finishing No. 6 in the Associated Press rankings. This time around, the third-ranked Zags were given a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

They took that seed and trounced No. 15 Valparaiso 76-49 in Seattle at KeyArena.

Turiaf led the Zags with 15 points. Blake Stepp added 13, Violette had 13 and Adam Morrison had 10.

The next round saw the Zags get bounced from the tournament much earlier than anticipated – thanks to the 10th-seeded Nevada Wolfpack.

A 91-72 loss saw GU’s school-record 21-game winning streak snapped.

Violette led the Zags with 16 points and Morrison added 14.

2005: Second round

A No. 3 seed this season, the Zags were pushed by 14th-seeded Winthrop in the first round in Arizona at the McKale Center.

GU held on for the 74-64 win as Morrison had 27 points and J.P. Batista added 14.

The Zags snapped the Eagles’ 18-game winning streak, longest in the nation.

In the second round, GU ran into sixth-seed Texas Tech and Bob Knight.

For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs exited early after falling to the Red Raiders 71-69.

GU led by as many as 13-points, but Texas Tech rallied for the win.

Morrison had 25 points and nine rebounds. He missed a 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds to go. Erroll Knight matched his season high with 14 points.

2006: Sweet 16

GU headed back to Salt Lake City to the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

This time, a date with 14th-seeded Xavier awaited the Bulldogs and that date almost went awry.

Gonzaga's Adam Morrison stands with head coach Mark Few, right, after Gonzaga beat Indiana 90-80 in a NCAA tournament second round basketball game in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, March 18, 2006.  (Associated Press)
Gonzaga's Adam Morrison stands with head coach Mark Few, right, after Gonzaga beat Indiana 90-80 in a NCAA tournament second round basketball game in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, March 18, 2006. (Associated Press)

The third-seeded Bulldogs took until the 1:58 mark to go ahead for good when Morrison made a 3-pointer in a 79-75 win. He finished with 35 points and scored seven in the final 2 minutes.

Batista added 18 points.

In the round of 32, GU didn’t need to rely on Morrison to carry them past the sixth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers 90-80. He only scored 14 points as Batista had 20 and Sean Mallon had 15 points with 10 rebounds.

In the Sweet 16 against No. 2 UCLA, one of the more memorable games in Bulldogs history is one fans try to forget.

The Zags led 71-62 with 3:26 to go, but the Bruins dominated the final few minutes, not allowing GU to score another point.

A desperation 15-footer at the buzzer from Batista was off the mark and Morrison famously fell to the court with tears streaming from his eyes in a 73-71 defeat.

2007: First round

The 10th-seeded Zags ran into the seventh-seeded Indiana Hoosiers and were eliminated in the first round for the first time since 2002 with a 70-57 loss.

David Pendergraft and Derek Raivio led the Bulldogs with 12 points apiece and Mallon added 11.

2008: First round

Another early exit for the seventh-seeded Bulldogs this season, as current NBA star Stephen Curry had his coming-out party in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the RBC Center.

Curry and Davidson beat GU 82-76 as Curry scored 40 points, 30 the second half.

Steven Gray led the Zags with 21 points on seven 3-pointers and Jeremy Pargo added 18.

2009: Sweet 16

Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few laughs as he bounces a ball off the back of Matt Bouldin, who tries to shoot from half court on March 18, 2009, in Portland.  (The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few laughs as he bounces a ball off the back of Matt Bouldin, who tries to shoot from half court on March 18, 2009, in Portland. (The Spokesman-Review)
In the Rose Garden in Portland, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs beat the 13th-seeded Akron Zips 77-64.

Josh Heytvelt scored a game-high 22 points.

The second-round matchup featured one of the best finishes in GU history.

The 12-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tied the game up with 7.2 seconds left. On the inbounds, freshman guard Demetri Goodson took the pass and streaked coast to coast for the winning runner with 0.9 seconds left. The Zags won 83-81 to advance to the Sweet 16.

In the South Regional in Memphis at the FedEx Forum, the Bulldogs had no answer for top-seeded North Carolina, which won its 99th NCAA Tournament game 98-77, most in NCAA history at the time.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 24 points for the Tar Heels.

Pargo led the Zags with 16 points.

2010: Second round

The eighth-seeded Bulldogs defeated No. 9 Florida State 67-60 in Buffalo, New York, at the HSBC Arena.

Matt Bouldin led the Zags with 17 points.

In the second round, top-seeded Syracuse dominated the Bulldogs 87-65. GU made just 3 of 21 shots from behind the arc.

Elias Harris led the Zags with 24 points, Robert Sacre added 17, and no other Bulldog had over nine.

2011: Second round

The Zags earned a No. 11 seed. They were matched up with seventh-seeded St. John’s.

Marquise Carter scored a career-high 24 points, and the Zags upset the Red Storm 86-71 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

In the next round, GU ran into another buzz saw, and it was Jimmer Fredette and third-seeded BYU.

Fredette scored 34 points and the Cougars eliminated the Bulldogs 89-67.

Harris and Gray paced GU with 18 points apiece.

2012: Second round

Another No. 7 seed for the Zags as they went up against No. 10 West Virginia in Pittsburgh at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points apiece to advance the Bulldogs to the round of 32 with a 77-54 victory.

Next up was the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, who knocked out the Zags with a 73-66 result. Bell led GU with 18 points.

2013: Second round

The Bulldogs entered the tournament as the No. 1 team in the country and headed to Salt Lake City at the EnergySolutions Arena.

That granted them their first No. 1 seed in school history.

The Southern Jaguars pushed the Zags to the end, but GU topped the pesky team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference 64-58.

In the next round, the Zags were shocked by the ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers 76-70.

Kelly Olynyk led GU with 26 points.

2014: Second round

Eighth-seeded GU went to battle against No. 9 Oklahoma State at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

A physical game led to 61 fouls.

The Zags endured and won 85-77 behind 24 points from Kevin Pangos.

That led to a second-round matchup with No. 1 Arizona.

It was an easy game for the Wildcats, who won 84-61. Przemek Karnowski led GU with 14 points.

2015: Elite Eight

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few talks to players during a timeout in the second half of a second round NCAA men's tournament basketball game, Friday, March, 20, 2015, at KeyArena in Seattle.   (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few talks to players during a timeout in the second half of a second round NCAA men's tournament basketball game, Friday, March, 20, 2015, at KeyArena in Seattle.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
The Bulldogs went into the tournament with a No. 2 seed and took care of No. 15 North Dakota State 86-76.

Kyle Wiltjer led the Zags with 23 points.

In the round of 32, GU dominated No. 7 Iowa 87-68. Wiltjer led again with 24 points.

In the Sweet 16, the Bulldogs overcame their demons and beat UCLA 74-62 to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999.

Karnowski led GU with 18 points and nine rebounds.

In the Elite Eight, GU faced Duke for the first time in the NCAA Tournament and the Blue Devils handled the Zags 66-52.

Wiltjer led with 16 points.

2016: Sweet 16

A rougher-than-usual regular season led to a No. 11 seed for the Bulldogs.

A matchup with an athletic No. 6 Seton Hall showed the ceiling this GU team still had. They beat the Pirates 68-52, thanks to 21 points and 16 rebounds from Domantas Sabonis.

Next up, GU rolled over No. 3 Utah 82-59.

In the Sweet 16, Sabonis gave the Zags a nine-point lead with 6:24 left to play. It would be the Bulldogs’ last field goal as they were eliminated 63-60 by 10th-seeded Syracuse.

2017: National Championship game

Entering the tournament with only one loss, the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs had high expectations this time around.

They beat No. 16 South Dakota State 66-46, eighth-seeded Northwestern 79-73, No. 4 West Virginia 61-58 and No. 11 Xavier 83-59 to advance to the programs first Final Four in school history.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few celebrates the Zags’ win over Xavier in an NCAA Elite Eight game on March 25, 2017, in San Jose, Calif.  (Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few celebrates the Zags’ win over Xavier in an NCAA Elite Eight game on March 25, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A 77-73 win against seventh-seeded South Carolina in the Final Four pitted the Zags against North Carolina in the national championship.

A dream season fell just short in Phoenix as the Bulldogs fell 71-65 to the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels.

2018: Sweet 16

The fourth-seeded Zags struggled with No. 13 UNC Greensboro but ultimately won 68-64 as Zach Norvell Jr. hit a timely 3-pointer.

In the round of 32, GU beat No. 5 Ohio State 90-84 as Norvell scored 28 points.

The Sweet 16 matchup against No. 9 Florida State was a problem for the Zags as they fell 75-60.

Rui Hachimura led GU with 16 points.

2019: Elite Eight

Another No. 1 seed for the Bulldogs as they handled No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 87-49.

Next up was an 83-71 GU win over No. 9 Baylor to advance to its fifth consecutive Sweet 16.

Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few shakes hands with Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth after the second half of a second round mens basketball game in the NCAA Tournament against the Baylor Bears on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.   (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few shakes hands with Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth after the second half of a second round mens basketball game in the NCAA Tournament against the Baylor Bears on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

In Anaheim, California, the Zags defeated No. 4 Florida State 72-58 to avenge their season-ending loss to the Seminoles a season prior.

Trying to advance to the second Final Four in school history, the Bulldogs lost 75-69 against No. 3 Texas Tech.

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