Gonzaga heads to the NCAA championship for the first time in school history after beating South Carolina 77–73 in the Final Four.
Gonzaga is headed to the NCAA championship for the first time in school history after defeating South Carolina 77–73 in the Final Four on Saturday night in Phoenix.
Nigel Williams-Goss led the No. 1 seed Bulldogs with 23 points, adding five rebounds and six assists. Freshman center Zach Collins was also stellar, chipping in 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks off the bench.
The two teams played a tight, high-scoring first half, with the Bulldogs leading 45–36 leading at the break. Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski left the game with an eye injury after South Carolina’s Chris Silva blocked his shot and inadvertently scraped his face on the follow-through, but Karnowski returned for the second half.
The No. 7 seed Gamecocks struggled to close the deficit, with Gonzaga’s hot shooting carrying them and Collins making a major impact defensively. But after Collins picked up a third foul midway through the second half, South Carolina ripped off a 16–0 run in less than four minutes to take the lead with 7:06 left in the game.
From there, Gonzaga regained the lead with a 7–0 run of its own and held on the rest of the way, playing stifling defense down the stretch. South Carolina had the final possession down by three, but a foul by Josh Perkins sent Sindarius Thornwell to the line, where he made the first and intentionally missed the second. Killian Tillie secured the rebound for the Bulldogs and sank two free throws to ice the game.
South Carolina’s Thornwell, one of the stars of the tournament, managed 15 points on 4–12 shooting.
Gonzaga advances to the NCAA title game for the first time in school history and will play North Carolina, which beat Oregon later Saturday night, in Monday's championship.