South Carolina, Gonzaga on defensive

Making the case for South Carolina at the Final Four
Final Four matchups that could make the difference
Author

10 April, 2017

If Gonzaga is going to head back to Spokane with a national championship, they might have to do it without one of their best players.

Gonzaga 77, SC 73: Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points, Gonzaga's big men combined for 27, and the Bulldogs used some last-second strategy for a 77-73 victory over SC in a matchup of first-time teams at the Final Four. It put the Gamecocks up 67-65 and Gonzaga on their heels. And on the next play, he scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play.

The Bulldogs' 7-footers, senior Przemek Karnowski and freshman Zach Collins, took care of things on both ends of the court as they combined for 18 rebounds.

SC forward Chris Silva answered with a three-point play of his own, igniting a 16-0 run in the next 3:33, capped by two free throws by Rakym Felder for a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to go. Thornwell made a block and drew a charge in a momentum-changing sequence for the Gamecocks.

But with the SC fans making deafening noise, the Zags remained poised, going on a 7-0 run of their own that included four points from 7-foot, 300-pound Polish monster Przemek Karnowski, who returned in the second half after suffering an eye injury late in the first half.

After falling behind by nine at the end of the first half, SC wouldn't go away quietly.

But then the Gamecocks mounted a run, scoring 16 in a row at one point.

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How did SC end up here? Alabama scored 90 in February, but it needed four overtimes.

Martin, whose candor and commentary has won him plenty of fans during the Gamecocks' tournament run as a seven seed, broke down in tears as he discussed his seniors, the mark they left on his program, and his team's journey.

Stanford forward Alanna Smith led a late rally but her side fell short in their NCAA Tournament Final Four clash with SC on Saturday. Not to mention being a No. 7 seed out of a football conference. For the fourth time in the tournament SC trailed at the half. The Gamecocks defeated No. 4 Florida in the Elite 8. The last team to win a national title in their first appearance in the game was UConn back in 1999.

In this one, Meeks finished 11 for 13 for 25 points and 14 rebounds, none more important than the last one. He left the game for the rest of the half. SC still has a chance for the women's basketball national title - that game is Sunday. During the first five minutes of the second half, the lead stay around 9-11 points. They didn't get the usual production from Thornwell, who missed practice earlier in the week because of a headache and fever.

Against the Ducks, the rebounding battle was even (43 each), though North Carolina got five more on the offensive glass, which resulted in 19 second-chance points, 10 more shots and, eventually, the win.

With a three-point lead and 12.7 seconds remaining, Few did the smart thing and gave an intentional foul at the proper time. Kansas was averaging like 96 points per game in the tournament and they couldn't score.


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