GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sindarius Thornwell sat in a subdued South Carolina locker room and, with a small army of TV cameras and reporters circled around him, did not so much as dip his head.
“How can we hold our heads down?’’ he asked.
Yes, South Carolina lost to Gonzaga 77-73 on Saturday in the national semifinals, but the bigger picture did not escape Thornwell, the Gamecocks’ star player.
The seventh-seeded Gamecocks had put a scare into top-seeded Gonzaga as part of their improbable run postseason run.
PHOTOS: South Carolina vs Gonzaga
The Gamecocks destroyed brackets across the country after shocking Duke in the Round of 32. They busted more brackets after upsetting Baylor in the Sweet 16 and knocking off Florida in the Elite Eight to reach the Final Four for the first time — remember, the very first time — in school history.
On Saturday, for a stretch, it looked grim. South Carolina trailed 65-51, but coach Frank Martin later indicated he had faith in his players.
“Like I’ve been saying for the last three weeks, the harder it gets, the tougher they stand,’’ he said.
And so the Gamecocks went on a 14-0 run, and with about seven minutes to play took a 67-65 lead that set up the suspenseful final minutes. So Thornwell, a senior, was not about to lament the way things ended.
“We never thought we’d be here, but we worked every day,’’ he said. “We never gave up, us seniors that came in (together), in the situation we were in, we never gave up.’’