Przemek Karnowski leaves Final Four with eye injury
Przemek Karnowski leaves Final Four with eye injury
Gonzaga advances to NCAA championship
17 April, 2017, 05:48
The Bulldogs squandered all of a 14-point second-half lead before rallying and holding on with two late free throws, ending the surprising tournament run of SC with a 77-73 victory in a Final Four game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday.
If the Oregon Ducks beat the North Carolina Tar Heels in their Final Four matchup Saturday night, the Zags face the Ducks Monday in Phoenix for the title. Chris Silva converted a three-point play to start a 16-0 run.
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. The team's leading scorer was sophomore P.J. Dozier, who had 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting, while adding nine rebounds.
With less than five minutes to go in the first half against South Carolina, Gonzaga big man Przemek Karnowski crumpled to the floor after sustaining what appeared to be an injury to his eye. He stayed down for several minutes before making to the bench and going to the locker room. SC made the first shot and appeared to intentionally miss the second one in an attempt to get the rebound with a chance to tie. In fact, the Zags pulled ahead of SC even further, thanks to terrific play from Nigel Williams-Goss. Thus, the Gamecocks offense has skyrocketed in comparison to the regular season as they averaged 73.2 points per game.
"I don't think there was ever a thought in our mind that he wasn't going to play, just the type of guy he is", Associated Press All-American Justin Jackson said.
Despite their leading scorer Sindarious Thrownwell just making one field goal in the first half, SC kept pace with the Zags offensively by making threes, getting to the foul line and capitalizing off of turnovers. The Gamecocks made a frantic second-half comeback, as they have so many times in the postseason.
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Erica McCall had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinal, but made only 7 of 19 shots.
"I don't know if I can come up with a statement that can describe this game", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. And when the Gamecocks made the second-half run that they've become known for in the tournament, Gonzaga was there to fight back to finish off the game and push this dream season one step closer to one of the greatest achievements in college basketball history.
South Carolina's magical run is over.
"We had J3 (Williams) guarding him for a while".
"That's my job is to go in and rim protect", said Collins, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Collins final blocked shot helped maintain a three-point lead with 1:21 remaining.
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