Another Bitter Conclusion

It was right there for the taking for No.4 seed Wisconsin. A shot at redemption from last season, one last chance to bust the 2-3 zone and get one step closer to its first Final Four in 12 years. In the end, not one, but two, game-winning shots don't drop, sending the Badgers home with a bitter 64-63 loss to No.1 seed Syracuse Thursday in Boston.

BOSTON - Nineteen seconds left, Wisconsin with the ball, down one and with a chance to win the game. Jordan Taylor ran through such a scenario in his head before the game. In fact, he said had thought about it thousands of times before in his life.

But when the dream opportunity became reality, the Badgers' senior leader couldn't hit a contested 3-point shot, and sophomore John Gasser's last-second shot couldn't find the bottom of the bucket either., resulting in the Badgers heading home after another disheartening Sweet 16 loss – this one a 64-63 setback to No.1 seed Syracuse.

It's puzzling how the Badgers (26-10) didn't find a better look on its last possession. Throughout the game it appeared as if Taylor and his teammates weren't intimidated by the heralded 2-3 zone of Syracuse. The Badgers even looked as if they were slowly figuring it out.

In one stretch Wisconsin hit six straight 3-pointers, all clean looks at the basket following quick ball movement, that helped the Badgers erase a 10-point deficit in the first half to lead by as many as three with 7:05 remaining. But in the end, it all went wrong.

First, there was the Badgers' leading scorer, Jared Berggren, who along with Taylor poured in 17 points. The big man was a perfect 3-for-3 from the 3-point line and when he played, the offense seemed to come alive. But in the end he was a split second too late on a substitution at the scorer's table.

"It's tough to not be in there at the end of the game," Berggren said with his head hanging in disappointment. "You want to make a chance to make a play."

Coach Bo Ryan downplayed the missed substitution.

"If they'd have gone up three, Jared is the better 3-point shooter," said Ryan. "It was OK. It was a one-point game, and who's scrappier than Mike Bruesewitz and who got their hand on the ball in the end? It worked out OK. We were fine with it."

Then there was the one timeout remaining for Wisconsin that remained when time expired on the Badgers' season.

"I never leave an in-bounder without a timeout," said Ryan.

Then came the offensive set that led to a bucket just seconds earlier against the zone. The call was for "horns action" which Ryan said yielded the Badgers several good looks throughout the game. But this time Syracuse was not to be fooled.

"We did a good job of rotating the guards Dion and Scoop and we tried to swing it back over to the right," said Taylor. "But Joseph did a really good job of coming up top and they forced us into a really tough shot" Taylor said he thought his dream shot was good, but the front rim denied the senior a chance to continue what has become a memorable career in Madison. Instead, Wisconsin heads home for the second straight year with thoughts of what could have been in a Sweet 16 matchup.

"We played well enough to have this one on our side," Ryan said. "It just didn't work out that way."

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