GLENDALE, Ariz. –
FINAL - Gonzaga wins, 77-73. Thornwell missed the second free throw, but Killian Tillie got the rebound. He made both free throws to seal the win. Gonzaga will play the winner of Oregon-UNC for a national championship on Monday.
03.5 Josh Perkins fouls, on purpose. It’s his fifth, but Sindarius Thornwell will head to the line for two shots, needing three points to tie the game.
0:12.7 Once again the Zags will have to play some defense at the end. They lead 75-72 but South Carolina will get the final shot. West Virginia all over again.
1:35 Zach Collins heads to the line makes one of two to give GU a 75-72 lead.
3:54 Gonzaga is nursing a 72-67 lead at the final media timeout. Zach Collins has been key for the Zags in the last few minutes. He’s got 13 points and 12 boards.
5:30 Zach Collins rattles in a 3-pointer, ending South Carolina’s 16-0 run. Then Karnowski scores. GU lead is 70-67.
7:39 Gonzaga is wilting under South Carolina’s defensive pressure and the Gamecocks have all the momentum. Mark Few calls another timeout with the Gamecocks on a 14-0 run. The score is tied at 65.
9:30 South Carolina isn’t cooked yet. Gonzaga just called a timeout following an 8-0 run by the Gamecocks that took just over a minute. GU lead now down to 65-59.
10:55 Mathews and Williams-Goss have hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, but the Gamecocks answered with jumpers of their own. Then Williams-Goss hit a jumper and was fouled. He’ll shoot a free throw, too, after the break. GU leads 64-51.
19:25 Looks like Karnowski is OK. He scores GU’s first basket of the second half on a putback. GU leads 47-37.
HALFTIME: Silas Melson’s deep 3-pointer to end the half was taken just a split-second too late. Still, Gonzaga played an exquisite half of offensive basketball against the country’s No. 2 defense and leads, 45-36, at the half.
0:44.0: Huge sequence for the Zags, who are on a 7-0 run. First Williams-Goss hit a contested jumper near the end of the shot clock, and then Jordan Mathews drained a contested 3-pointer just seconds later after South Carolina missed a 3. Zags have a chance to take a good lead into halftime, leading 45-36.
Big six-point swing there from the NWG three that rimmed out and the Thornwell three that bounced in.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 1, 2017
1:35: This game between the country’s two most efficient defenses is on pace to finish in the 80s. South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell just hit a 3-pointer, and he’s still only got five points. Williams-Goss has hit some pretty shots lately and Jordan Mathews is heating up. GU leads 40-36.
6:25: South Carolina ties it up at 26 on some free throws by Sindarius Thornwell. GU is shooting about 20 percent better than the Gamecocks from the floor, but it hasn’t made a difference yet.
8:14: Gonzaga leads 24-19 after a pair of free throws by Williams-Goss.
12:18:The Zags are getting whatever they want in the paint, and Silas Melson has hit a pair of 3-pointers. South Carolina is sticking around thanks to its own outside shooting. GU leads 20-14.
Based on reaction to Karnowski’s great pass to Collins, I think the whole darned city of Spokane is here #FinalFour— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) April 1, 2017
16:47 Both teams have to be happy with their ability to score against an elite defense. The Gamecocks are hitting outside shots and the Zags are having success getting the ball inside to their big men. South Carolina currently leads, 7-6.
3:03 p.m.: OK, I lied. It’s packed. Pretty cool National Anthem with a singer from each Final Four school. The GU girl got quite a cheer during her solo.
2:40 p.m. The Zags just came onto the court to roaring applause. This game won’t fill the NFL stadium, but it might get pretty close. Both student sections are, ahem, rowdy and both teams seem fired up. Just 18 minutes left on the countdown clock.
2:17 p.m.: We have just been handed the starting lineups. The Zags will send out Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Mathews, Josh Perkins, Johnathan Williams and Przemek Karnowski. The Gamecocks will counter with Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, PJ Dozier, Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva.
2:10 p.m.: It is absolutely electric here in the arena, and it’s only about 1/10th full. While Jim and John scored courtside seats, Whitney and I are seated behind the basket, behind about 20 rows of South Carolina students. But we’re also seated directly in front of the CBS stage where Ernie Johnson and Co. are conducting the pregame show. That means we’ll all finally find out just what these analysts do exactly during commercial breaks. Stay tuned!
1:10 p.m.: Welcome, from the cavernous University of Phoenix Stadium! Thanks for sticking with us on this long road to the Final Four. As always, I’ll be providing live updates until the end of the game. But first, do your homework. Don’t watch the game without reading our extensive pregame coverage:
John Blanchette has a column about Nigel Williams-Goss, who picked up a prestigious academic honor yesterday. So did Przemek Karnowski. Make sure to watch this Final Four hype video and don’t miss this video made by a Gonzaga student.
Jim Meehan penned a story about Johnathan Williams’ defensive prowess while Whitney Ogden has a story about the team’s bench players. Jim also has a story about the difficulty teams face shooting in these football stadiums.
I spoke with former GU basketball ops guy Jerry Krause, who has been to 48 Final Fours. This one will be his favorite, but he’s made some pretty cool memories over the years.
Vince Grippi set the table for today’s game with his links column.
We’ve also got some opposition research for you. Sindarius Thornwell is South Carolina’s star player, and he says he’s healthy, but keep an eye on Chris Silva, who is playing a long way from his home in Gabon. There has been a lot of winning happening in South Carolina lately, and the Gamecocks would like to join the party.