Gonzaga head coach Mark Few talks to his players during a practice session for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, March 31, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Another reason to think points might be in short supply: Gonzaga ranks first nationally in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency metric, allowing 86 points per 100 possessions, while SC ranks second (87.8). Collins also had a career-high six blocks.
The Bulldogs won the West Regional last week and will face 7 seed SC at University of Phoenix Stadium for a spot in Monday's national championship game.
"People keep score when you play games 35, 36, 37 times a year". With less than 12 seconds to play and the Gamecocks trailing 75-72, the ball was in his hands, but Thornwell never got the opportunity to take the last shot.
South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell, the SEC player of the year, had just five points on 1-for-5 shooting.
The Bulldogs survived a second-half collapse which saw them blow a 14-point lead before they regathered their composure to hold on with two late free-throws in a see-saw Final Four duel.
"He told me before the game, 'Look, I wouldn't want to be playing against me today, '" said Williams-Goss. How poetic that Meeks made good after Berry - an 81-percent foul shooter - stunningly missed both his foul shots. "We just got hot at the right time and everything started clicking".
However Gonzaga were nearly left ruing what would have been an upset defeat when a 65-51 lead with 11 minutes to play turned into a 67-65 advantage for SC after 16 unanswered points.
Gonzaga is led by Nigel Williams-Goss, the WCC player of the year.
"And I knew I had a couple of rough games before this".
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BACK AGAIN: North Carolina has a chance to leave this Final Four with a better result than last season's last-second loss to Villanova in the championship game. OR and UNC will tip off roughly 40 minutes after the conclusion of that game.
Gonzaga was the No. 1 seed in the West and defeated South Dakota State, Northwestern, West Virginia and Xavier to reach the national semifinals for the first time in program history.
PJ Dozier led the Gamecocks with 17 points and Thornwell, the leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 25.8 points per game during the first four rounds, finished with 15 on 4-for-12 shooting after starting slow.
Karnowski went down on the court in the first half after being poked in the right eye as he took a shot underneath the basket.
"I'm going to share this with you, but he said to me last night, 'Man, I feel like I'm letting everyone down, '" SC coach Frank Martin said.
The Zags went four minutes and 10 seconds without scoring, trailed by two and were playing as if they were trying to mend a broken dam with tissue paper.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs had made three Elite Eights without advancing to the Final Four. Of the seven SC players recording minutes, three were in double figures and all contributed points. Jordan Mathews was 4 for 8 while Williams-Goss and Melson had two each and Collins had one. SC shot 37.9 percent (25 of 66) for the game while the Bulldogs were 29 of 60 (48.3 percent).
Gonzaga meets North Carolina for the national championship on Monday night.