Gonzaga withstands South Carolina, headed to national title game

Gonzaga players celebrate on the court over their victory over South Carolina in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Gonzaga won 77-73. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — 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 South Carolina on Saturday in a matchup of first-time teams at the Final Four.

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. Collins also had six blocks.

Gonzaga (37-1) will face the winner between North Carolina and Oregon for the national championship on Monday night.

Williams-Goss missed a shot with 12.7 seconds left and South Carolina rebounded and called a timeout trailing 75-72. South Carolina passed the ball around and Gonzaga fouled Sindarius Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left. He made the first and missed the second on purpose. Killian Tillie rebounded for Gonzaga, was fouled and made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to cement the game.

Williams-Goss, a second-team All-American, led the Bulldogs to a 14-point lead in the second half but it disappeared quickly as the Gamecocks (26-11) went on a 14-point run to grab a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to play.

Collins and Karnowksi then accounted for the next 7 points, including a 3-pointer by Collins and a thundering dunk by Karnowski.

Still, South Carolina wasn’t done. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks scored 5 straight to get within 74-72 with just over 2 minutes left.

PJ Dozier led the Gamecocks with 17 points and Thornwell, the leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 25.8 points per game, finished with 15 on 4-for-12 shooting after starting slow.

Karnowski went down on the court in the first half after being hit in the face as he took a shot underneath the basket. He left for the last 5 minutes of the half, but Collins picked him up, finishing with 8 points at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: The Gamecocks entered the tournament having last won a game in 1973. They had four wins to reach the Final Four, including victories over the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in the East region.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs had made three Elite Eights without advancing to the Final Four.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga meets the winner of the North Carolina-Oregon for the national championship on Monday night.