Top Defenses?: Gonzaga and SC both had made their marks in the NCAA Tournament to this point with incredible defense. They will meet the victor of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Oregon Ducks, who are playing now from University of Phoenix Stadium.
OR stands in the way of North Carolina's chance to reach the title game for a second straight year.
Zags get chance to complete historic journey after surviving scare from SC in Final Four semifinal.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Their star guard was outstanding.
With two big men going at it, it won't be easy to officiate inside. Why can't the Gamecocks continue one of the sport's greatest NCAA tournament runs - and finish it off with the program's first national championship?
Gonzaga (37-1) will play North Carolina on Monday night after the Tar Heels held off OR for a 77-76 win in the late game Saturday.
"We've been on this team to show some emotion, because there's always expectations with Gonzaga teams that they should win every game", said Few, who has been at the helm for 18 years. "It took everything we had to hold them off and come back".
- Gonzaga's Twin Towers of Przemek Karnowski and Collins (both are 7-footers) proved too hard to handle inside, combining for 27 points, 18 rebounds and 6 blocks (all by Collins) in 48 minutes. Collins also had a career-high six blocks. He had four fouls at the time. "I still feel we don't get the respect we deserve".
No. 1 seeded Gonzaga is now just one game away from its first ever National Title.
Kyle Lowry (wrist) explodes in his return to the Raptors' lineup
With three more ties in the final minutes, a Valanciunas hook shot followed by a DeRozan jump shot gave Toronto a four-point lead. The numbers are ugly and yet Toronto is two wins away from its second consecutive 50-win season, and wrapping up the No. 3 seed.
"People keep score when you play games 35, 36, 37 times a year", Martin told Tracy Wolfson after the game. Instead of getting a chance for a tying three, SC was sent to the free-throw line for two shots with only three seconds left, as Gonzaga wisely and strategically fouled to give it the edge.
"We struggled to defend them in the first half and stopped playing offensively the right way at the end of the first half (Gonzaga closed with a 7-0 run)", Martin said. Dillon Brooks had a rough night for OR, making 2 of 11 shots and committing five turnovers before fouling out. Gonzaga maintained that lead and more for much of the second half, leading by as many as 14 after Nigel Williams-Goss' three-point play with 10:40 left. The former Washington point guard has had a spectacular season and it was on full display in every facet of the game on Saturday against SC.
"The journey we've been on has just been unreal, and we just never stopped believing and we've had the utmost confidence in ourselves the entire season long", Williams-Goss said. OR and UNC will tip off roughly 40 minutes after the conclusion of that game.
Zach Collins finally got the Zags' offense moving again when he rattled home a 3-pointer on the following possession, but a potential blowout had become a nail-biter. Gonzaga let the clock wind down to 3.5 seconds before committing the foul and sending Thornwell to the line.
With the loss, the No. 7 seed Gamecocks Cinderella story ends. "When things got tough, we banded together". "And we try to do our best to respond the way we learn how to respond".
Why South Carolina (26-10) will win: Sindarius Thornwell is the team's engine, but he's been getting a lot of help during the Gamecocks' improbable tournament run with PJ Dozier and Chris Silva stepping up their offensive production.
"They crowd the paint", Thornwell said. "My drive, they forced me to pass it out on my drives". And they just did a good job of protecting the rim. And I mean, the guys executed it perfectly, especially down the last four minutes.
"I was 100 percent", Thornwell said.