Gonzaga Denies Cinderella South Carolina, Advances to National Title

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are headed to the national title game.

In the battle of two schools who appeared in their first Final Four in program history, the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 77-73, in a thrilling national semifinal match-up. Gonzaga became a household name in basketball circles, a top-tier program that earned No. 1 rankings, top seeds in the NCAA Tournament, won more consistently than almost every other program in the country.

"I guess they were making comments that we were the most nervous team in the tournament". The six blocks were a career high.

Smith, Stanford's first global recruit, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds to be equal top-scorer for Stanford with Erica McCall (14 points, 14 rebounds). "I had four fouls today. We figure out a way to get off our backs and fight to the end".

The Zags needed all of the above Saturday night, not just the grinding defense but (especially) the brilliant offense against another ruthless defense as SC threatened - even in the final moments of the game, and even as Thornwell struggled - to steal a berth in Monday night's title game.

"The second part is you've got to get the rebound, and that's been hard for us at times this year".

Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 21.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds.

He made the first, but the second didn't fall as the Bulldogs' Killian Tillie grabbed the carom. He then hit both free throws to ice the game.

Thornwell said the idea was to get in position for one last quick shot.

"The plan was to miss it left and hopefully, Chris could tap it out to someone", Thornwell said.

The Gamecocks (26-11) almost became the first team to ever overcome four halftime deficits in one NCAA Tournament by using a 16-0 run, led by PJ Dozier, to take a 67-65 lead with 7:06 remaining.

Leading the way for the Bulldogs was Nigel Williams-Goss.

"I knew I had a couple of rough games before this", Collins said. OR and UNC will tip off roughly 40 minutes after the conclusion of that game.

The normally strong SC defense was exploited, especially in the paint. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks scored 5 straight to get within 74-72 with just over 2 minutes left. "We had a nine-point lead and they got right back in", Vanderveer said. "We're going to have to do a tremendous job defensively to try to keep the ball out of there a little bit".

"They have huge bodies and they are tall", the 6-10 Kotsar said.

"They're always on me to show emotion after a win".

The first half's biggest storyline had to be Przemek Karnowski's eye injury. He left for the last 5 minutes of the half, but Collins picked him up, finishing with 8 points at halftime. He finished with 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting and didn't score until the 6:25 mark of the first half.

"I've had some really, really tough teams". It was the largest first-half deficit for SC during the tourney.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: The Southeastern Conference fell short in its bid for multiple Final Four teams after getting three to the Elite Eight. 3 (Baylor) and 4 (Florida) seeds in the East Regional.

  • Zachary Reyes