Badgers players, Bo Ryan reflect on loss in NCAA Final Four game
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (WITI) — The Wisconsin Badgers were one shot away from playing for Wisconsin’s first national championship in 73 years. Then came the devastating and heartbreaking 74-73 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats — ending the Badgers’ 2013-2014 season.
Wisconsin did almost everything it needed to do Saturday night, April 5th to beat Kentucky except for hitting one crucial free throw.
Ben Brust and Sam Dekker each scored 15 points, but Traevon Jackson missed a foul shot with 16 seconds left and the Badgers were left stunned after Aaron Harrison’s three from the wing with 5.7 seconds to play gave the Wildcats a 74-73 victory.
Jackson missed a jumper at the buzzer and the Badgers fell short in their quest for the school’s first national title since 1941.
“I was very confused, because in my mind, in my heart I believed. I believed in my prayers and I believed in what it is that, you know, God said and I thought that we were going to win for sure, so that I could specifically give him the glory, but the beauty of it is, is that I can still give him the glory even if we lose. And, you know, just being content that no matter what happens in life, he gives me that peace still — that peace that transcends all understanding, and you know, it is more than just basketball right now. I just hope that people realize that,” Jackson, a junior guard said.
“You saw how hard he broke to get the ball. You saw him pump fake and get three free throws. He’s a gamer. (Reporter: He’s made that kind of shot before.) Yeah, but he’s wanted to be in that position before — and that takes a certain kind of guy,” Badgers Head Coach Bo Ryan said.
Other Badgers players are reflecting on the loss — after the Badgers had one of their most successful seasons in Wisconsin history — starting with a 16-game winning streak and ending at the Final Four.
“You know, this is a sour taste. You know, we’re going to be back next year — better than ever. I know we’ll all be ready. It’s going to be a long road to get back to here, but you know, I know we’ll make it,” Badgers junior center Frank Kaminsky said.
“In a few weeks we’ll, you know, hopefully be able to look back on it and be proud of what we accomplished — but right now, you know, we thought we could come out with a win there and had a chance to win this thing, and that’s why this sucks,” Badgers junior guard Josh Gasser said.
“We’ve been so used to being, you know, the victors all year, so you know, it was tough. It’s shocking. It’s still tough but, you know, this is where you grow up and realize, you know, time to get better. Time to get hungry again and you know, we want to be in this position again next year,” Badgers sophomore forward Sam Dekker said.
“Just looking back, we know that we were all this close to playing in a national championship game and winning and if we look back, we all know that if we would have done one more of this, one more of that, one less offensive rebound for them, we would have been, you know, instead of sitting here hugging each other, we would be celebrating,” Badgers freshman forward Nigel Hayes said.
The loss was especially tough for Badgers seniors — including star guard Ben Brust. There are three seniors on the squad, including Brust, center Evan Anderson and forward Zach Bohannon.
“I mean, I’ll be able to look back and talk about it and you know, I’m still very proud of it, but it just sucks that, you know, that ball didn’t go in,” Ben Brust said.
“I feel for him, you know. He’s been great. All the seniors have been you know, great leaders — and that’s leadership and everything like that — and like I said, I’m just glad they got to a Final Four, but you know, we’re gonna miss them,” Badgers freshman guard Bronson Koenig said.
Kentucky meets Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament’s championship game on Monday, March 7th.