Mathews' late 3 lifts Gonzaga over West Virginia

Thomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports
Author

25 March, 2017

Jevon Carter fired up two potential tying 3-pointers only to see them go off-target and Gonzaga didn't allow West Virginia to get off a third.

The first round of the NCAA tournament might not have delivered many upsets, but the second round brought a few stunners along with a high quality of play.

Conversely, Gonzaga features a towering front line of 7-1 Przemek Karnowski, 7-footer Zach Collins, 6-10 Killian Tillie and the athletic 6-9 Johnathan Williams. He abandoned the press and went to the zone, but Gonzaga found open spaces and open shots.

Bulldogs will play the victor of the Arizona vs. Xavier matchup.

Carter made a 3 for WVU, but Karnowski backed a defender down for 20 or so feet and scored calmly inside and then swished a jumper from near the free-throw line. "I knew they had a lot of guys up top".

The Mountaineers grabbed 25 rebounds in the 1st half, 11 on the offensive end.

Late in the following possession, WVU's Dax Miles stepped back in the left corner and made a 3 after missing his first four attempts of the game.

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Or, do whatever it was West Virginia did. All those compliments, yet still a season ending loss. Carter and Miles led the way with 24 and 18 points respectively while senior Tarik Phillip came off of the bench to pump in 12.

Mathews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in Thursday's thrilling win over West Virginia in the Sweet 16. The Bulldogs are a short favorite, by just three points.

Which is why West Virginia, even as it scrambled to earn extra opportunities to tie the score in the closing seconds, couldn't find a single makeable one - and were left helpless without an attempt as the final buzzer sounded.

The sequence that saved Gonzaga's season actually began when West Virginia's Nathan Adrian stripped Nigel Williams-Goss after he'd secured the rebound of a missed free throw. It doesn't always look that way within the game, but by the end of 40 minutes it's clear that most teams in college basketball just can't hang on their level.

And why not? It's a tried and true method for head coach Bob Huggins, who wants his teams to get up maximum quality shots while revealing little of the game plan. Another stoppage late in the game lasted almost five minutes when officials had difficulty determining which team had possession of the ball underneath West Virginia's basket. Matthews finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

West Virginia ended the first half missing its last six shots, while Gonzaga couldn't convert its final shot try right before the first-half horn, a Melson drive to the basket. They committed 13 turnovers and Northwestern capitalized, scoring 17 points off turnovers in the second half. The second came with a foul by Adrian, and the four-point play put Gonzaga up 41-34. "Everybody knows where to make the rotations and everybody knows if we have no ball pressure we have no press".

With just under two minutes to go, the officials decided against West Virginia and Carter getting too comfortable. Although Gonzaga is an up-tempo team on offense, it's merciless with its half-court defense, thriving on outstanding athleticism and length. "If the 'Zags had lost - which it appeared they might when the Mountaineers took a three-point lead in the final two minutes - they'd have heard yet another round of 'fraud" this and "overrated" that.


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