Gonzaga holds off South Carolina 77-73 in Final Four

The big knock on Gonzaga in the past was its inability to handle adversity.

"I'm really, really proud of our guys and our late-game execution", Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said. "It took everything we had to hold them off and come back".

That's when Gonzaga's Zach Collins shot a three-pointer that hit the rim and backboard nearly simultaneously, died there but dropped through the net.

Karnowski finished with 13 points and five rebouinds. "I had four fouls today". I don't know, I just felt like we did our homework.

The Zags face North Carolina on Monday night.

Last year, 162 NCAA and global players declared for draft, but 91 eventually withdrew, according to ESPN's Chad Ford.

Williams-Goss missed a shot with 12.7 seconds left and SC rebounded and called a timeout, trailing 75-72.

Gonzaga smartly fouled Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left rather than allowing a tying 3-point attempt. "We're 37-1. The one game we lost this year, we panicked", he said. So the Zags pressured the Gamecocks to make them use as much clock as possible, then Josh Perkins fouled Sindarius Thornwell on the right wing and before he was in a shooting motion. "Let's put in the time, the work, the sacrifices to make sure we get there".

"The plan was to miss it left and hopefully Chris (Silva) could tap it out to somebody", he said.

It was an out-of-nowhere 16-0 run that actually gave the Gamecocks a 67-65 lead with 7:06 left. "So we had a 4-man", Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. It was the first time he had at least 10 rebounds in a game this season.

The Bulldogs steadied themselves with a 7-0 run, punctuated by a dunk and a layup from Karnowski.

North Carolina (32-7), the No. 1 seed in the South, will be seeking its fifth national title. His final swat came with almost a minute left.

"Since the beginning of the season that's what we worked for, moments like this", Silva said. "We did what we could do, but next year we'll come back and we'll be good".

The Under Armour-sponsored Gamecocks were led in scoring by guard PJ Dozier, who had 17 points.

"They crowd the paint", Thornwell said. My drive, they forced me to pass it out on my drives. And they just did a good job of protecting the rim.

Some NBA draft analysts suggest he could be taken in the first round. This comeback came up just short. "I had blurry vision, a little bit shadow".

"I really did say that", Collins said.

Known for its stifling defense, SC relied on a fired-up offense to make it a game.

Gonzaga players celebrate after their victory over SC in the Final Four. They are light years from a fluke, having been a 1 or 2 seed in three of the past five NCAA tournaments.

Martin's memory is a hair off - it was 1999 when Gonzaga marched to the Elite Eight and began its run of 19 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

Head coach Frank Martin is nothing if not passionate, and for a roster that boasted three seniors who all made lasting impacts on both Saturday night's Final Four matchup with Gonzaga and throughout the tournament, it's hard for a head coach not to get attached. Collins had six and Silas Melson had two for the Bulldogs.

Martin's Gamecocks were still within one possession of Gonzaga in the closing seconds, but they were thwarted by some clever defensive strategy by the Bulldogs.

When the ball went in with 10:55 remaining Saturday, Williams-Goss flexed and pointed to his biceps. This was the best rebounding team in the country this season, grabbing an average of 13 more boards than their opponents over the course of the season.

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