NCAA Tournament - Postgame morning rumble: St. John's season ends with a 86-71 loss to Gonzaga (link dump)

Congratulations to the seniors who worked so hard to get to this point. 21-12 is nothing to sneeze at, especially after what came before. The seniors will be remembered fondly, and laid the base for a better future, one with more talent, more wins, and probably the kind of fans that complain about not getting a top-4 seed in the Tourney, fans who want to fire a coach after a team's bad performance - you know, major college basketball.

But for now, let's take a look around at what the media is saying about the Red Storm's loss; expect some nice post mortems still to come, and keep checking back here for more NCAA Tournament coverage, season recaps, looks ahead to next year - stay involved with the Rumble.

Check out our postgame recap of St. John's NCAA Tournament loss; the box score is here. And the media links are below the fold.

General, St. John's-centered coverage.

NY Post: Gonzaga bullies St. John’s out of NCAA Tournament - NYPOST.com
When you have worked as hard as this St. John’s team has to restore the pride, regain the glory and lay the foundation, the ending is brutal.

Especially when it comes too sudden and is too sad. There was not a dry eye in the St. John’s locker room in the Pepsi Center after a crushing 86-71 loss to Gonzaga last night in a NCAA Tournament Southeast Region second-round game.

NY Daily News: St. John's outrebounded, eliminated in 86-71 Round of 64 loss to Gonzaga in Denver
The sixth-seeded Red Storm returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002 only to have No. 11 Gonzaga cut its stay painfully short, dissecting the Johnnies' defense with precision passing en route to an 86-71 pasting in a Southeast Region game before 19,260 at Pepsi Center.

St. John's has a roster with 10 seniors who suffered many setbacks before finally reaching the promised land of the NCAA Tournament. Many of them exited the floor for the last time, fighting back tears at the end of a game for the first time.

USA Today: No. 11 seed Gonzaga knocks off sixth-seeded St. John's
On Thursday, they overwhelmed St. John's with their size — outrebounding the Red Storm 43-20 — and with a potent inside-outside offensive attack. Guard Marquise Carter led the Zags with 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Gray added 16 points and forward Elias Harris had 15.

"In terms of their personnel, their firepower, their talent, they're as good as anyone we've faced this year," said Steve Lavin, in his first season coaching St. John's. The Red Storm lost its leading rebounder, D.J. Kennedy, to a knee injury in the Big East tournament. On Thursday, St. John's lost its grip on the mojo that helped it reach the NCAA field for the first time in nine years. "A year, five years from now, they're going to look back and realize that they brought St. John's basketball back," Lavin said.

NBC NY: St. John's Season Ends With a Thud in Denver
Two of the bigger questions leading up to the game were how well St. John's would be able to battle Gonzaga on the inside and how much the Red Storm could control the pace of the game. The answer hurt St. John's in both cases.

Gonzaga dominated on the boards and St. John's couldn't handle their center Robert Sacre without sagging off the perimeter defensively. That was bad enough, but it got worse. Every time they drifted inside, the Zags nailed an open three. They finished 9-of-15 from beyond the arc on the game and shot 52.9% overall, numbers that make it clear that the Johnnies couldn't hang on the defensive end. Credit the athletic trio of Stephen Gray, Elias Harris and Marquise Carter for exploiting that shortcoming and keeping the pressure on all game.

NY SBNation: NCAA Tournament 2011: St. John's Ends Season With 86-71 Loss To Gonzaga
Behind 53.8 percent shooting (28-of-52) and a dominant performance on the glass (42-20) the No. 11-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs upset the St. John's Red Storm, 86-71, in a second-round NCAA Tournament contest in Denver, CO Thursday night.

Spokane Spokesman-Review: Gonzaga storms past St. John’s to open NCAA tourney
St. John’s (21-12), ranked 18th, jumped in front 8-2, but the Zags quickly found their stride. Elias Harris’s 3-pointer triggered 12 unanswered points, capped by Steven Gray’s steal and layup. GU led 24-14 and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

"When they jumped out and got ahead of us, I was kind of nervous because that hasn’t happened in a while," said junior guard Marquise Carter, who led Gonzaga with 24 points and six assists. "After we calmed down and started playing, we started going up three, five, seven. It just came natural to score and get defensive stops."

ESPN.com: St. John's Red Storm's season ends in tears with loss to Gonzaga
"A lot of tears shed," said a red-eyed Hardy at the postgame news conference, when asked to describe what the locker room was like immediately after the game. "We know after this loss we just took that we won't get another chance, the seniors won't get another chance to play in this atmosphere again."

St. John's accomplished the one goal it set at the beginning of this season -- making the NCAA tournament, for the first time in nine years. But after all of its success over the past few months -- including beating the likes of Duke, UConn and Pittsburgh -- the No. 6-seeded Red Storm were hoping to go farther in the Big Dance than an upset defeat at the hands of the No. 11-seeded Zags.

"Gonzaga played a great basketball game," said St. John's forward Justin Burrell. "They imposed their will in every single way possible. They beat us in every single aspect of this basketball game. They rebounded the ball, made shots, shot the 3, got in the paint -- they beat us in every way you can possibly be beat."

Wall Street Journal: St. John’s Surprising Season Ends With Loss to Gonzaga
The limited number of rebounds thwarted St. John’s ability to streak up the floor and convert quick baskets, a staple of their successes this year. The Red Storm also seemed unable to disrupt the Bulldogs’ offensive rhythm despite an array of defenses, including zone and full court pressure.

St. John’s hands went up. But Gonzaga shots, unerringly, sank in. Though St. John’s shot a respectable 46.6% from the floor, the Bulldogs drained a spectacular 60% of their three-point shots, many of which deflated mini-St. John’s runs. Overall, Gonzaga shot 53.8% from the field.

Gonzaga receives a lot of love for their "upset" win.

Spokesman-Review: Kinda like Zags of lore, and kinda not
Surely there was something eerily familiar in the mere fact of the Zags carving up 18th-ranked St. John’s 86-71 on Thursday night in the NCAA tournament, the final home run in what was nearly a topsy-turvy grand slam at the Pepsi Center.

Three double-digit seeds won here in this second-round pod – No. 13 Morehead State, No. 12 Richmond and finally the No. 11 Zags, though it might be suggested that whoever did the math on the last one needs to rotate the beads on their abacus. "We certainly didn’t consider ourselves an underdog," offered Gonzaga coach Mark Few.

Seattle Times: Bud Withers | Gonzaga storms past St. John's for 86-71 victory
Consider:

• The bigger Zags bludgeoned St. John's on the boards, 43-20.
• Gonzaga, which defenses all season have swarmed inside because it isn't a great perimeter team, fired in 9 of 15 threes — against a season average of 5.8 made threes, which is 204th in the nation.
• The Zags, wary of St. John's press and transition game, did an admirable job against the pressure, committing a workable 15 turnovers, the bulk of them after they had begun to control the game.

The Gonzaga guards were superlative. Marquise Carter (24) and Steven Gray (16) shared 40 points, 12 rebounds and all sorts of other cogent numbers, and Goodson, while contributing only one field goal, did a yeoman job against the pressure.

Times Colonist: Zags rout Red Storm in opener
Big East? Or Big Easy?

Displaying some of its very best basketball of the season, Gonzaga dispatched 18th-ranked St. John's here Thursday night in the NCAA basketball tournament, 86-71, setting up a Saturday meeting with Brigham Young and playerof-the-year candidate Jimmer Fredette.

SB Nation: March Madness Scores: Gonzaga Looks Like Superior Team, Downs St. John's
Gonzaga took control early in the first half and never really gave it up, holding the Red Storm at arm's length the entire second half. Elias Harris hit a three-pointer a minute into the second half to give Gonzaga an 11-point lead, and the Red Storm never got back to single digits. It was a pretty remarkable display, considering these were the same Red Storm that topped Duke and Pittsburgh.

Yahoo!: Don't call it an upset - College Basketball
"They were a good team, but it wasn’t really an upset to us," Gonzaga center Robert Sacre said. "I don’t think we get enough credit. Throughout the whole year, everyone’s doubted us, but we’ve had our blinders on, stayed focused and kept grinding away."

That Gonzaga is one win away from a spot in the Sweet 16 is a momentous accomplishment considering how unlikely it once seemed that the Zags would make the NCAA tournament.

CBS Sports: Gonzaga finally looking like the Zags we all love
It was Gonzaga's best game of the season. Easily. The best sign for this team and its fans: the second-best game, according to Steven Gray, was the WCC title game, which preceded this one. The Zags defeated St. Mary's 75-63 in that one. So ... here comes a Gonzaga tournament run? No one's going there yet. Some guy named Jimmer stands in the way. (More on him and that matchup in a few.)

Because of the team's makeup and size up front, Few sort of took fleeting offense at the seeding his team received. They prepped all week as the superior team. "We didn't consider ourselves a lower seed. We just knew it was a number that some random group assigned us," Few said. "We went into this game thinking we should win. That was the mindset as soon as the matchup popped up."

SI.com: Marquise Carter, Gonzaga Bulldogs upset St. John's Red Storm in NCAA tournament
"It's not a birthright," coach Mark Few said. "This has been a great learning process for our players, our staff, our fans, people who follow the program. There's nothing guaranteed."

The Bulldogs buckled down and fought through two slumps. They won the West Coast Conference tournament, earning an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Just the first step in the Red Storm's comeback.

NY Times: St. John’s Loses to Gonzaga in N.C.A.A
Thursday night represented the biggest step of the comeback, if not the culmination. But St. John’s played without the senior guard D. J. Kennedy, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee early in a quarterfinal loss to Syracuse in the Big East Conference tournament last week.

The St. John’s cheering section at the Pepsi Center included about a dozen fans wearing red T-shirts reading, "Do it for DJ." Inexperienced St. John’s could not do enough against Gonzaga, playing in the N.C.A.A. tournament for the 13th year in a row. The Bulldogs made nine of their first 12 shots while bolting to a 24-14 lead. St. John’s, unable to match Gonazaga’s length or poise, was in scramble mode for the rest of the game.

NY Post: St. John's loss hurts now — but these guys restored pride
Sometimes, the yellow brick road collides with a brick wall. Sometimes, the magic is siphoned out of the magic carpet, replaced by the harshest kinds of reality. So much had gone right for the St. John’s Red Storm this year, so many brilliant days and nights when they allowed the city to care about college basketball again. They were a great story.

And they were a very good basketball team on most nights. But they ran into a beast last night.

NY Daily News: NCAA Tournament: St. John's now has a future under Steve Lavin, despite disappointment in Denver
In the end, it was a case of a team put together with chicken wire and emotion going up against a well-oiled machine. It was the difference between an established program that has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 straight years and is used to playing at a higher level this time of the year, and a team that had played at a high level in big games at the Garden during the regular season but was still learning what March Madness was all about after a nine-year absence.

First-year Johnnies coach Steve Lavin and his staff will always be remembered fondly for the way they rejuvenated interest in college basketball in the city and for giving 10 seniors on this team a going-away present they will cherish.

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