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After a devastating 63-62 Final Four loss to the University of Virginia, Auburn’s Coach, Bruce Pearl, thanked God for bringing his team as far as He did.

During a post-game presser, a reporter asked Coach Pearl what he said to his players after the loss, in what had to be one of the toughest locker rooms he’s ever walked into.

“Just that it was God’s plan,” Pearl said. “That we would be happier in victory, but God has blessed us all year long.”

“I’m not going to be in a position where I will ask for any more than He has given us, and [I] trust Him completely,” he said.

“We all feel really really blessed,” he added. “Yes, we are disappointed, but we are also really proud.”

Coach Pearl has always been open about his deeply held Jewish faith. In an interview with USA Today Friday, Pearl expressed his gratitude after realizing he was only the fourth Jewish head basketball coach to make it to the Final Four.

“It tells you what a great country we live in,’’ he said. “I’m grateful for the religious freedom I have to be a practicing Jew in the Christian community (in Auburn, Alabama). I can tell you down South it is so comfortable there because we share the same God. And my Christian brothers embrace that. It’s a wonderful thing.”

“That doesn’t exist everywhere,” he added. “So I’m just grateful. But I’m also mindful that it hasn’t always been that way. It’s not that way everywhere. And we need to make sure that we do the best job we can as a Jewish man to represent and break down stereotypes while we maintain our identity.’’

Despite Coach Pearl expressing his gratitude to God, the Auburn-Virginia game ended in controversy.

In the last eight seconds, Jared Harper, a guard for Auburn, missed a free-throw, which was followed by the official’s failure to call a double dribble on Ty Jerome, Virginia’s guard.

Moments later, Auburn was called for a foul that sent Virginia’s Kyle Guy to the line. Guy, who has an 81.8 percent foul shot, made 3 shots, and sucessfully brought Virginia to advance over Auburn by one point.

“We weren’t supposed to be here,” Pearl said post-game to CBS Sports. “This will be a memorable game, and I’d like it to be remembered for a great game. Let’s not remember this game because of just how it ended. Let’s remember two teams that played really hard that only had 13 turnovers combined, didn’t shoot it very well because there was great defense.”

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Author: Lindsay Elizabeth

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