Gonzaga to play North Carolina for NCAA championship
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 05, 2017,
Apr 05, 2017, 17:25
After being tested by a tough SC team Saturday night, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are headed to the NCAA championship with a 77-73 victory in the Final Four opener in Phoenix.
Former Findlay Prep standout Williams-Goss scored 23 points, and former Bishop Gorman star Collins had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots off the bench for Gonzaga.
Head coach Frank Martin is nothing if not passionate, and for a roster that boasted three seniors who all made lasting impacts on both Saturday night's Final Four matchup with Gonzaga and throughout the tournament, it's hard for a head coach not to get attached.
Gonzaga saw a 65-51 lead become a two-point deficit when SC went on a 16-0 run, but the Zags went back on top by as many as five down the stretch.
Despite playing against the highly rated Gonzaga defense, SC suddenly found life, going on a 16-0 run in just three minutes to erase what looked like an increasingly hopeless double-digit deficit and instead put the Gamecocks ahead.
"To be playing the last game of the year is just insane cool", said coach Mark Few, who performed a celebratory handstand in the locker room.
The Bulldogs maintained a slim lead from there and led 75-72 with 12.7 seconds left as the Gamecocks set up a final play. SC shot 37.9 percent (25 of 66) for the game while the Bulldogs were 29 of 60 (48.3 percent). He made the first and line-drived the second for a deliberate miss, but the rebound stayed near the rim, allowing Tillie to grab it and be fouled.
"I feel blessed, blessed to be part of something so special", said Williams-Goss, who's in his first season with Gonzaga after transferring from Washington. "We figure out a way to get off our backs and fight to the end".
"I just didn't want to lose another game off a winning shot", said Joel Berry II, who missed the free throw that Meeks tore away from Jordan Bell to ice the game. The title game is Monday night. SC passed the ball around and Gonzaga fouled Sindarius Thornwell before he could shoot with 3.5 seconds left.
The man top-seeded Gonzaga (36-1) relies on to lead its defense is 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski.
This run matched South Carolina's previous NCAA wins total.
"I was just really, really proud of our guys, our late-game execution", Few said. Karnowski hit the floor and was soon taken to the locker room to see an eye specialist.
"And Coach says it all year that we just can't talk the talk, we gotta walk the walk".
Williams-Goss missed a shot with 12.7 seconds left and SC rebounded and called a timeout trailing, 75-72. P.J. Dozier had 17 points and nine rebounds for SC, and despite the slow start, Thornwell finished with 15.
"Throughout the whole second half it was getting better and better", he said. His 21 points came on 11 shots from the field and he only went 3 for 7 from behind the arc.
North Carolina's academic scandal was brought up on the CBS broadcast during the second half.