Gonzaga reaches its first NCAA basketball title game

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Williams-Goss missed a shot with 12.7 seconds left, and SC rebounded and called a timeout trailing 75-72. For many opponents against the powerful Bulldogs, that would be that.

Top Defenses?: Gonzaga and SC both had made their marks in the NCAA Tournament to this point with incredible defense. And it will never be looked at quite the same way again, either.

SC and Gonzaga threw haymakers during the first Final Four game of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and in the end, the the Bulldogs came out on top, 77-73.

Two fantastic coaching decisions by Mark Few - and ideal execution by his players on the floor - allowed them to avoid every last SC bullet. "Just kind of the intensity that he brings to the game".

That came down to a decision by Gonzaga to foul with a three-point lead.

Nigel Williams-Goss led the scoring for Gonzaga with 23 points. They've come this far with their do-everything senior guard Sindarius Thornwell - and by "do-everything", it's actually everything; he leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals - and a suffocating defense. The Bulldogs needed to be good, as SC found its own success offensively and lay in wait for its inevitable second-half run.

"We've been practicing it all year", said coach Mark Few. "We always want to foul under 6 (seconds). It was a great effort, but without Karlie we really struggled". He made the first and missed the second on goal. But Theo Pinson got inside and batted the ball back out to Joel Berry II, who got fouled with four seconds left. North Carolina cleans up almost 42 percent of its misses, so their best offensive play is often a missed shot. He was the last guy on his team to score, hitting a free throw with 3 seconds left that cut the Gonzaga lead to two.

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Erica McCall had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinal, but made only 7 of 19 shots.

SC responded to that potential body blow with a a three-point play of its own, and then P.J. Dozier blocked Jordan Mathews' answer.

The South Carolina comeback fell short, but it was breathtaking as it unfolded.

In earlier games against Florida and Baylor, South Carolina had three and nine bench points respectively. This had been the Gamecocks' habit throughout the postseason.

The Gamecocks rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to take the lead, but the Bulldogs were able to put enough plays together to cinch it.

SC rallied from a halftime deficit in three of their first four games of this tournament. But we don't lay there. "We'll know at the end of the half". He's the anchor of an excellent Gonzaga defense, but the Bulldogs do have Zach Collins to help fill in the gaps.

"Biggest adjustment in the second half was speeding up the game". Karnowski shrugged and cackled as the two strutted down the hall.

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GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks defends Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.

"That's my job, is to go in and rim protect". "I try to protect without fouling".

Thornwell had been averaging 25.8 points during the NCAA Tournament.

They have been powerful enough to take SC to its first Final Four.

"I was 100 percent", Thornwell said.

Gonzaga will play the victor of North Carolina and OR for the National Championship on Monday. Justin Jackson was one of the few to break through. The cameras caught him after Saturday's victory.

Fleury makes late start, Penguins rush by Blue Jackets 3-1
Behind those goals, along with Marc-Andre Fleury's strong goaltending - who stopped 39 of 40 shots - the Penguins took the game. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Kessel netted a power-play goal, which gave the Penguins a 2-0 advantage over the Blue Jackets .

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