Since 2000-01, 24 percent of the Bulldogs' roster has been transfers, and two of the more recent ones, Kelly Olynk and Kyle Wiljter, are on National Basketball Association rosters. SC was in the double bonus while the Bulldogs were still shooting one-and-one. And it will never be looked at quite the same way again, either.
Gonzaga, playing in its first Final Four after so many deep NCAA Tournament runs, watched as SC turned the Bulldogs' 14-point advantage into a two-point deficit with 7 minutes to play. The tournament win over Florida gave the team 26 wins this season, which topped the record tied previous year at 25, the mark set by McGuire's team in 1969-70. "Just an awesome basketball game". Both teams went cold from outside but Gonzaga was dominated the glass, leading to consistent points in the paint.
Gonzaga point guard and Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss was the star of the game.
On one hand, it's so sad to see the Gamecocks get knocked out.
Mostly on grit, rebounding and Meeks, North Carolina (33-6) led this game the entire second half and appeared poised, time after time, for a knockout of the never-say-die Ducks (32-7). During that time, the Gamecocks drew five fouls, blocked three shots and forced the Zags into two additional turnovers. Gonzaga shot just under 70 percent from the floor in the first ten minutes and would shot 58 percent in the first half.
How did SC end up here? The rebound was corralled by Gonzaga's Killian Tillie, a freshman who had just entered the game for the first time in the second half. Four-point lead. Game over.
Gonzaga saw a 65-51 lead become a two-point deficit when SC went on a 16-0 run, but the Zags went back on top by as many as five down the stretch. This had been the Gamecocks' habit throughout the postseason.
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"They were making comments that we were the most nervous team in the tournament", Williams-Goss said of the team's critics. "The way we play defense, you can put any school - big or small - against us". But we don't lay there.
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Here are three big takeaways from the game. Williams-Goss wore the LeBron 14, while Collins and Karnowski wore the Zoom LeBron Soldier 10. "I had four fouls today".
"That's my job, is to go in and rim protect". "I try to protect without fouling".
MEN IN THE MIDDLE: Seven-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski is Gonzaga's center and he will be matched up with 6-10 Maik Kotsar of SC.
"I've had some really, really tough teams". But Gonzaga made enough plays down the stretch to close out the game. Justin Jackson was one of the few to break through. The cameras caught him after Saturday's victory. "They're always on me to show emotion, so that's my fairly weak effort of showing emotion".
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