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Gonzaga defeats SC 77-73, advances to national title game

03 April 2017

Gonzaga will play the victor of the late Final Four game between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 3-seed OR here Monday night.

Gonzaga added another name to that list in its 77-73 national semifinal victory over SC on Saturday. He was one of the main reasons that Gonzaga regrouped after blowing a 14-point second half lead to beat SC 77-73.

SC had a chance to tie the game while trailling 75-72 and taking possession with 12.7 seconds left but they did not get a shot away and following Gonzaga coach Mark Few's instructions, guard Josh Perkins committed a foul with 3.5 seconds remaining, sending Sindarius Thornwell to the line.

Each of the Bulldogs' top performers favored Nike signature sneakers, specifically two of LeBron James' models.

SC had a chance to tie, taking possession with 12.7 seconds left, down 75-72. P.J. Dozier showed out, scoring 17 points on 16 shots and Chris Silva and Duane Notice joined them in double figures with 13 and 10.

Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots against Kavell Bigby-Williams #35 of the Oregon Ducks in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.

Meeks, the only Tar Heel who could shoot straight Saturday night, grabbed the game-saving offensive rebound in a 77-76 semifinals victory over OR after the ice-cold Tar Heels missed their fourth straight free throw down the stretch.

Senior big man Przemek Karnowski, who missed the end of the first half after getting raked in the eye, got the buckets with 6:06 and 4:48 remaining to restore order for Gonzaga, which lost the lead moments earlier.

"That's my job is to go in and rim protect", said Collins, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds. This comeback came up just short.

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"I'm really happy for him", Karnowski said of Collins.

Sindarius Thornwell tried to find an untapped reserve of energy to will his aching body into performing the same way he willed SC to this stage.

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. And I mean, the guys executed it perfectly, especially down the last four minutes.

"Never in a million years would we have thought this team that we have, which has been a good team would get to where they are", said SC fan, Jeff Kimbro.

Gonzaga point guard and Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss was the star of the game.

Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss celebrates his team's win at Saturday night's buzzer for the NCAA semifinals game against SC.

"I don't think it was designated or anything", he said. He was leading the field in points per game during the NCAA Tournament heading into the Final Four. Williams-Goss also had 23 points in the Elite 8 against Xavier.

Thornwell finished his college career with 1,926 points, 681 rebounds and 389 assists.

Instead, the Zags (37-1) had another "rock fight", as Few called the West Virginia game, against the just-as-physical SC.