SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Fairleigh Dickinson got the whole March experience. It cut down the nets. It won a tournament game. And then it was harshly sent home two days later.
There’s a reason they describe this month as madness — one second you’re on the top of the world, the next you’re at the bottom.
Forty-eight hours after the 16th-seeded Knights staged a memorable rally at the First Four in Dayton for the first tournament victory in program history, they tasted the nastier part of March, slaughtered by No. 1 Gonzaga, 87-49, in a West Region opening-round game at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
The Bulldogs, out for blood after suffering their third loss of the season in the WCC title game nine days ago, scored 18 of the game’s first 22 points, built a 20-point lead halfway through the opening half and were up 36 halftime.
FDU knew it had to play a perfect game to defeat one of the nation’s premier programs, and it was evident early that wasn’t in the cards.
The Knights missed their first six shots, committed 17 turnovers, shot just 6-of-21 from 3-point range — their greatest strength — and were overwhelmed by their bigger, more talented and battle-tested opponent at basically every position.
After scoring 33 points on Tuesday, senior Darnell Edge made just 2-of-10 shots to finish with seven points. Fellow senior Mike Holloway Jr. led FDU (21-4) with 10 points. Gonzaga (31-3), the only team to beat Duke at full strength, had five players score in double figures.
Projected top-10 NBA draft pick Rui Hachimura scored a game-high 21 and Killie Tillie added 17.