SAN JOSE, Calif. – FINAL: Mark Few and Gonzaga have finally done it. The Bulldogs left no doubt, beating Xavier 83-59 to punch a ticket to the program’s first-ever Final Four.
33.2 - Rui Hachimura just hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock buzzer. This could not be going any better for Gonzaga.
2:14 - This one is all but over. The Bulldogs can basically run out the clock, leading 78-57.
Zags closing in, lead by 19 with 3:53 and going to FT line.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 26, 2017
5:34 - Zach Collins fouls out and is given a warm ovation by the fans. GU leads 75-55.
7:43 - Xavier is running out of time for a comeback, trailing the Zags 71-53 and having a really tough time stringing baskets together.
Four quick points by Xavier prompts timeout by Few. GU 69-53, 9:56 left.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
10:51 - Nigel Williams-Goss hits a 3-pointer and then Xavier turns it over. Xavier coach Chris Mack was just called for a technical and Williams-Goss made one of the free throws. Then Karnowski was fouled. Xavier players showing a lot of frustration. GU has its largest lead, 68-49.
Williams 8 of 11 FG, 18 points, six boards, two blocks, two steals, one rebound hustling back after having to put his shoe back on.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
12:43 - Collins picks up his fourth foul going for an offensive board. Bad foul. He’ll sit. In come Karnowski, who has three fouls. GU 64-49.
Johnathan Williams has been a monster today. 18 points on 10 shots. Zags by 16.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 25, 2017
14:32 - Johnathan Williams has been maybe Gonzaga’s best player during the NCAA Tournament, and that’s holding true today. On one possession he finished an alley-oop dunk with a second left on the shot clock. On the next he drove for a layup and was fouled (he missed the free throw). Gonzaga leads, 63-49.
Gonzaga's offense now up to 1.41 PPP in this game. Flamethrowing its way toward the Final Four.— Luke Winn (@lukewinn) March 25, 2017
16:41 - Zags fans are the loudest they’ve been all tournament as their team has only extended its halftime lead. GU now leads 59-42 and Xavier will have to play some pretty phenomenal ball to get back in it.
10 3s for the Zags, lead up to 16— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
18:49 - Looks like GU’s shooters didn’t cool off at halftime. Williams-Goss hits a 3-pointer with a little English on it. GU 54-41.
19:35 - Bulldogs begin the second half with the ball and Przemek Karnowski hits a hook shot. GU up 51-39. But Karnowski just picked up his third foul. Looks like few will leave the big man in.
GU losing the battle on the glass… Xavier outrebounded the Zags 21-16 at the half. Xavier has twice as many offensive boards (8-4) #GoZags— Whitney Ogden (@SRWhitneyOgden) March 25, 2017
Gonzaga shot 26% from 3 against South Dakota State.— Will Sherratt (@willsherratt) March 25, 2017
25% against Northwestern.
Today against Xavier? 61.5%#GoZags
0:00 - Insane sequence to end the half. While trying to rebound a ball, Williams bounces it off the floor and into his own basket. Then Williams-Goss hits a floater with about four seconds left. Xavier’s J.P. Macura hits a full-court shot and the officials say he got it off in time, but determine upon review that it was late. Anyway, GU leads 49-39 at the half.
Hell, I’m not sure ANY NCAA team can match this, upon thinking about it more. https://t.co/tCPr1IWKH1— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 25, 2017
Bluiett buries a 3 and GU's lead down to 44-37, 1:00 left.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
1:34 - Johnathan Williams fakes a 3-point shot and slices into the lane for a layup and foul. His free throw puts GU up 44-33.
2:27 - Now Gates fouls Collins while Collins fights for a rebound. Collins is very excited. Collins misses the free throw. GU 41-30.
3:06 - Gonzaga will try to give Xavier a taste of its own medicine, going into a 2-3 zone on defense. Malcolm Bernard is able to split the defense and draw a shooting foul. He makes one of two free throws. Now some chippiness between Zach Collins and Kaiser Gates. GU leads 38-30.
3-point shooting: Gonzaga 6 of 11, Xavier 0 of 3.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) March 25, 2017
3:25 - Gonzaga has not scored in 2:06 as Xavier has cut the lead to 35-29. But Jordan Mathews will shoot free throws after these commercials.
It’s all Zags the last few minutes.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 25, 2017
Zags biggest lead as Williams-Goss feeds Williams for dunk, 35-26.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
6:00 - And Johnathan Williams hits a 3-pointer. And then Williams-Goss. t’s going to be hard for GU to sustain this 50-percent pace from downtown, but it’s got them out to a 33-25 lead. Karnowski did just pick up his second foul, though.
8:27 - And now Silas Melson has hit a 3-pointer. But the Zags can’t keep giving up layups like this. Despite four blocked shots, Xavier’s having a lot of success at the rim. GU leads 27-23.
Great start to this game. Both teams are playing really well.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 25, 2017
11:34 - Unlike Thursday’s game, which was a knock-down drag-out affair, this game is close because both teams are executing at a high level. Not too many whistles so far, and it feels like this game will finish about an hour quicker than the West Virginia slog. GU leads 20-17 at the u12 media timeout.
13:23 - Gonzaga’s size advantage starting to play a role. After taking 3-pointers early, the Bulldogs are looking to the high post against Xavier’s 1-3-1 zone. GU leads 18-13.
Seven of GU's first eight shots have been 3s. Xavier started in man but quickly went to zone. Bluiett, Goodin each 4 pts for Xavier— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 25, 2017
Perkins made up for his 2 quick turnovers with 2 big 3sin the first 4 mins of the game. GU leads 12-10 #GoZags— Whitney Ogden (@SRWhitneyOgden) March 25, 2017
15:46 - And another 3-pointer for Perkins. GU is 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, but is giving up some easy shots inside.
16:41 - Josh Perkins for 3. That’s great news for the Bulldogs (see our pregame coverage below to see why) but GU still only leads 9-8.
18:30 - Zags have settled down and now lead 3-2 after a Williams hook shot and a Williams-Goss free throw. GU already has a pair of offensive boards and has drawn a pair of fouls. But It’s also got a pair of turnovers. Now Xavier leads 4-3 after a Trevon Bluiett jumper. But Jordan Mathews just drained a 3-pointer. 6-4 Zags.
19:46 - Inauspicious start for Gonzaga, which turns it over on its first possession, leading to a dunk by Xavier’s Malcom Bernard. Josh Perkins lost the rock, there.
Prediction:— Evan Closky (@KREMEvan) March 25, 2017
Gonzaga - 71
Xavier - 66#Zags have the crowd advantage, that's for sure.
If you live near San Jose and want to take in an Elite 8 game there appear to be plenty of open seats here just waiting for you.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 25, 2017
Prediction: Zags by double figures.— Keith Osso (@OssoKXLY) March 25, 2017
2:59 p.m. - Just over five minutes until tipoff. The Musketeers have ceded the court for the final few minutes to the Zags, who are practicing their 3-pointers. They’ll need to hit some shots from deep today to score on Xavier’s zone defenses.
2:32 - Odd scene on Xavier’s side of the court. The Musketeers formed a circle around one of their coaches (strength coach?) and watched as he did squats with a player on his back. In unrelated news, I hear the team’s chiropractor drives a brand new Mercedes.
2:25 p.m. - We’ve just been handed the starting lineups. Gonzaga will start Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Mathews, Josh Perkins, Johnathan Williams and Przemek Karnowski. Xavier will counter with a four-guard lineup. J.P. Macura, Malcolm Bernard, Trevon Bluiett and Quentin Goodin will share a crowded backcourt, while 6-foot-9, 237-pound freshman Tyrique Jones will try to handle GU’s forwards all by himself.
1:59 p.m. - This does not seem like the worst time to pass along a story Nigel Williams-Goss wrote for The Players’ Tribune about what making a Final Four would mean to the team. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/nigel-williams-goss-gonzaga-basketball/
And here’s an article written by Xavier’s Trvon Bluiett for the same publication: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/trevon-bluiett-xavier-march-madness/
Xavier seeks its first-ever Final Four appearance and can be the 5th double-digit seed to knock off a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. pic.twitter.com/Qui9HWA2LR— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 25, 2017
1:40 p.m. - There is a buzz in the building, yet there is barely anyone here. Xavier players are warming up on both sides of the court - guards on one end, bigs on the other - while Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth holds court along the baseline. Across from me Jim Meehan and John Blanchette are doing their radio show, while TV personalities burn some nervous energy by shaking everything with a hand attached to it. Fans are entering the arena even though we’re a good 80 minutes from tipoff. Thursday’s pregame atmosphere felt kind of dull - Saturday’s is electric.
12:52 p.m. - Hello, everyone. We’re a couple hours away from Gonzaga’s last potential pitfall on the road to a Final Four: Giant-Slayer Xavier. Because you were smart and took care of your errands last night, you’ll have plenty of time to familiarize with all of our pregame coverage.
You’ll be familiar with the matchup after reading Jim Meehan’s advance, but you won’t really know your stuff until you read about the key matchups, or understand why Przemek Karnowski holds the keys to GU’s chances this afternoon. Maybe you’re worried about Nigel Wiliams-Goss’ lagging numbers. The Bulldogs aren’t.
If you’d like to know more about GU’s opponent, I’ve got you covered with a breakdown of Xavier’s defense(s) and an explanation of why the Musketeers don’t go anywhere without their jar full of ashes. You may have noticed some similarities between today’s competitors. I touched on that, too.
And last but not least, the really cool stuff. Colin Mulvany and Dan Pelle have a photo gallery from yesterday’s weigh-in, er, media day. Our staff put together this history of matchups between the two teams.
And John Blanchette has a column. Read it, internalize it, there will be a quiz in one hour.
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