North Carolina edges Gonzaga for NCAA title

07 April, 2017, 07:13 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • North Carolina edges Gonzaga for NCAA title

With 21.7 seconds remaining, Gonzaga came out of a timeout down three points and looking to get the ball to Wooden Award finalist Nigel Williams-Goss.

As it had been all tournament long, though, no lead was safe from the South Carolina Gamecocks. Gonzaga players celebrate after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against South Carolina, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

The Zags will face North Carolina in the national championship game Monday night in the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Gonzaga forward Zach Collins blocks a shot by SC forward Maik Kotsar (21) during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Silva, who inadvertently poked Karnowski in the eye in the first half, did all he could with 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, despite giving up several inches and 40 or more pounds to the Bulldogs big men.

With the loss, SC ends the 2016-17 season with a program-record 26 wins and an overall record of 26-11.

As good as OR was in the Kansas game, let's not forget how thin the Jayhawks were this season; they had some great answers (Josh Jackson, Frank Mason) but not many beyond that.

Known for its stifling defense, SC relied on a fired-up offense to make it a game. That's when SC tightened its defense, and went on an out-of-nowhere 16-0 streak to take the lead. "That's what we did the entire season. And we didn't do a good job of properly executing that". Boucher suffered a season-ending injury last month and was the team's unquestioned leader. UNC failed to cover while claiming tournament victories over Kentucky and OR by a combined three points but has performed well when favored by 1.5 OR fewer points, going 7-2 SU and ATS in its past nine such outings.

Let the record show that the Zags actually led inside the final two minutes, so in that regard ... yeah, they'd have won if Carolina hadn't scored again.

Former 'Zags are all over Phoenix this week, and on Friday night, hours before a date with SC in the Final Four, Mark Few invited his past players to meet with his current ones.

"What's really tough right now is talking to Coach (Jim) Boeheim earlier in the week, he told me it will crush you if you don't win it", Few said. That's the great thing about this guy, that he'll help you grow as a basketball player and as a person at the same time without you even really realizing it. It's the stuff reserved for the guys who not just reach the Final Four, but who have plowed through the final 80 minutes of madness.

"Maybe that's how he is", Karnowski said afterward. GU didn't score a single point off a turnover in the game.

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. "I mean, they've been just unbelievably consistent". "We want them to see that, wow, that's a great place to get an education, wow, that's a great place to be an engineer, they have a great school for business. And just protecting the rim real well". Many teams would have folded after blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.

Hopefully this one lives up to each of these two teams' Elite 8 match-ups. There's the time Meeks dove for a loose offensive rebound with 53 seconds left and won a jump ball despite his hand appearing to be out of bounds. Twice, they missed both free throws. Thornwell was a four-year player who improved his scoring and defense each season under Martin.

The LV Superbook is less excited about Arizona, though their current odds of 15/1 are eighth-best overall, behind Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Villanova and Gonzaga. Thornwell, the Gamecocks' leader, brushed past him, leaving Karnowski to stare quizzically at Thornwell's back and shrug. Few also added a pair of impact freshmen as the last pieces to the puzzle: French forward Killian Tillie and five-star center Zach Collins. "Back in those days, we were innocent and footloose and fancy free".

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