(WBAY) – Emotions are likely still raw for the Wisconsin Badgers, who fell just short of taking home a National Men’s Basketball Championship title.
They lost by just 5 points to the Duke Blue Devils, 68-63.
Sheboygan native Sam Dekker was the hottest shooter of the NCAA Tournament. He was emotional in the locker room after the game.
“It is a tough one. We had this game. I’m disappointed in myself and my performance tonight. I gave it my all. I’m proud of being on this team. This hurts. This hurts,” said Dekker.
The most brutal part might be this: The Badgers held a nine point lead in the second half, but then saw their championship dreams slip away.
“We knew we were going to win and it just didn’t happen,” said Josh Gasser, Badgers Senior Guard. “It was a great team but we just didn’t get it done.”
“To be basically one minute and 20 seconds away from winning a National Championship, to get it taken away is tough, really tough,” said senior forward Duje Dukan.
“It’s tough to say anything right now. These guys are my family, and I mean that literally not hypothetically. I’ve never been closer to a group of guys in my entire life,” said senior forward Frank Kaminsky.
Wisconsin is usually a team that makes good on free throw attempts. Monday night, Duke made 16 of 20 charity chocks. The Badgers made only 6 of 10 from the line.
The Badgers were not happy about calls made by the officials.
Coach Bo Ryan said, “You can’t say anything about the officiating. Come on, are you trying to set me up?”
“It was tough with those and one calls and stuff like that,” said sophomore Bronson Koenig.
“I’d say there was definitely some tough calls made on me personally, but I think on the team collectively, let you know that happens sometimes in basketball and you aren’t going to get the calls. They aren’t going to go your way,” said Dukan.
The Badgers brought experience, veteran leadership and player development to the forefront with this run, but Duke and its eight McDonald’s All-Americans won out in the end.