Gonzaga brings South Carolina's fairytale run to an end in Final Four

Tammy Harvey
April 17, 2017

The South Carolina Gamecocks face the Gonzaga Bulldogs in one of the Final Four NCAA Men's basketball games on Saturday, starting time at 6:39 PM ET, at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Gonzaga will play the victor of North Carolina and OR for the National Championship on Monday.

Gonzaga saw a 65-51 lead become a two-point deficit when SC went on a 16-0 run, but the Zags went back on top by as many as five down the stretch. Zach Collins quickly hit a three to put Gonzaga back in front, and the Bulldogs ended up scoring seven points in a row to regain control. Thornwell, who scored over 20 points in each of South Carolina's first four tournament games, just didn't show up late when the Gamecocks needed him most.

The Bulldogs came close to going into halftime with a double-digit lead and on a 10-0 run, but Silas Melson's 3-pointer at the buzzer was waved off.

The Zags feature a 7-1, 300-pound center (Przemek Karnowski), a light-it-up guard (Nigel Williams-Goss) and a power forward in Johnathan Williams who USC saw two years ago when he was at Missouri.

Meeks, the only Tar Heel who could shoot straight Saturday night, muscled away the game-saving offensive rebound in a 77-76 victory over OR after ice-cold Carolina missed its fourth straight free throw down the stretch. In the first half, five Gonzaga players had at least six points in the game. "I was fine. I was fine the whole game".

Despite their leading scorer Sindarious Thrownwell just making one field goal in the first half, SC kept pace with the Zags offensively by making threes, getting to the foul line and capitalizing off of turnovers. And just protecting the rim real well.

In this one, Meeks finished 11-for-13 for 25 points and 14 rebounds, none more important than the last one.

"It was no secret that we were coming in here to do something as a collective unit", Williams-Goss said.

"I don't know if I can come up with a statement that can describe this game", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

South Carolina's second round upset of Duke doesn't seem like that big of an upset anymore, given how well the Gamecocks played during the East Regional in NY.

Oregon, No. 3 in the Midwest, is making the program's first Final Four appearance since 1939 - the inaugural tournament (Oregon beat Ohio State for title).

Gonzaga's offense was a surprise all its own. "I understand some of you guys never watch us play, but, my god, anyone see Alabama play?" In three games against South Dakota State, Northwestern and West Virginia, Gonzaga shot a combined 41.6 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from the 3-point line.

They shot 58% in the first half, a stat that just isn't seen against SC.

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