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Gonzaga advances to national championship
10 April 2017, 02:36 | Amanda Barker
Thornwell had literally and figuratively put the SC team on his back throughout the NCAA Tournament and led the Gamecocks to the Final Four.
Matched up with a relentless SC defense, Gonzaga sprinted into halftime with a 45-36 lead to end a fast-paced first half in which both teams played well until the Gamecocks hit a lull in the last few minutes. Still, it came down to some last-second strategy for Gonzaga to move on to the NCAA Tournament championship game for the first time.
Thornwell made the first and missed the second, and Killian Tillie grabbed the rebound and subsequently made two free throws, sealing the Final Four victory for Gonzaga.
Their star guard was outstanding.
With two big men going at it, it won't be easy to officiate inside.
After many years of high seeds and runs that fizzled in the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, Gonzaga finally broke through this season.
SC historic and thrilling run in the NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday night, with a 77-73 loss to Gonzaga in the national semi-final game. McCall played well, scoring 14 points and also racking up 14 rebounds. "I had four fouls today". Unfortunately for the Zags, they didn't have that advantage to end the first half.
North Carolina is one game away from its sixth college basketball national championship after surviving a late rally in the final seconds against Oregon. Gonzaga fouled Sindarius Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left.
North Carolina missed four straight free throws at the end of the game but got offensive rebounds in both cases to emerge victorious. Instead of getting a chance for a tying three, SC was sent to the free-throw line for two shots with only three seconds left, as Gonzaga wisely and strategically fouled to give it the edge. "I think that's been a topic of speculation, because we haven't really had many close games". From there, the Bulldogs looked inside to Karnowski who added a couple baskets to what became a 7-0 Gonzaga response.
On one hand, it's so sad to see the Gamecocks get knocked out.
"The plan was to miss it left and hopefully Chris (Silva) could tap it out to somebody", he said. Gonzaga took a nine point lead into halftime, but the margin didn't quell the efforts of a reinvigorated SC squad - the Gamecocks tied the game at 65 with 7:39 remaining in regulation.
"Their redshirt plan for me was second to none with all the other schools I was looking at", Williams-Goss said. OR and UNC will tip off roughly 40 minutes after the conclusion of that game.
South Carolina's Cinderella run has come to an end, but that doesn't mean the Gamecocks can not leave at least one more lasting impact on March Madness.
"Since the beginning of the season that's what we worked for, moments like this", Silva said.
I'm just telling you, to beat them (74-60) in what was essentially a road game in Kansas City. "They forced me to pass it out on my drives". And they just did a good job of protecting the rim.
Big man Przemek Karnowski got hit hard in the face in the first half, sending him to the locker room. He led the team with 8 points at the break. Despite leaving in the first half after being hit in the eye, Karnowski put up 13 points and five broads.
"It was mostly my lower back, maybe a little bit going to my legs", he said. "Then I took him on a couple of possessions". He said his vision blurred but improved after he returned to the court in the second half.
So Thronwell missed, and here SC appeared to catch a break.
^ North Carolina coach Roy Williams is making his ninth Final Four appearance.
The rest of his team shot a brick-a-minute 14 for 55 from the floor (25 per cent). Collins was huge off the bench for the Bulldogs. Kansas was averaging like 96 points per game in the tournament and they couldn't score.
Williams-Goss is Boss: What a game changing grad transfer Nigel Williams-Goss has turned out to be for Gonzaga.
But Gonzaga would not go away or fall apart just because SC had rallied. His 21 points came on 11 shots from the field and he only went 3 for 7 from behind the arc. Thornwell had just five points in 18 minutes before halftime.
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