After every nail-biting NCAA Tournament win, there are the winners celebrating and the loser agonizing over the end of their season.
Rutgers was in the latter category tonight. The 10th-seeded Scarlet Knights were so close to topping second-seeded Houston and reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1979 before a collapse in the final minutes resulted in a 63-60 loss.
Rutgers led by as many as 10 in the second half and were still ahead 58-49 with 4:55 left before the Cougars ended the game on a 14-2 run. The Scarlet Knights went scoreless for the final 2:04 as the stalling, iso-heavy attack they typically use to close out games faltered.
As a result, the program’s first tournament appearance in 30 years, which featured its first tournament win since 1983, came to a crushing end.
HOUSTON HEADS TO THE SWEET SIXTEEN 🐾
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 22, 2021
Gutted. But lose me with the 'same old Rutgers' takes. This team under @CoachPikiell is anything but. They've changed everything. Onward and upward.
— tara sullivan (@Globe_Tara) March 22, 2021
This Rutgers meltdown has been brutal ever since missing that dunk that would have made it a 10-point lead.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 22, 2021
Strong, gritty comeback by Houston
Rutgers continues the Big Ten misery with a late collapse
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 22, 2021
Total collapse by Rutgers late. Played not to lose instead of going for the kill. Hate to see a team go out like that.
— Ryan Phillips (@RumorsandRants) March 22, 2021
Just a brutal collapse by Rutgers. Region was wide open, too. That’s gonna be a tough one to get over for the Scarlet Knights.
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) March 22, 2021
What a collapse by Rutgers from the moment they missed that dunk that would have made it a 10-point game. Couldn’t score or rebound after that. Big Ten on the ropes again.
— Noah Trister (@noahtrister) March 22, 2021
When it comes time to reflect on this season, Rutgers fans will be quite happy about all that the team accomplished.
However, right now, there’s only March heartache to deal with.