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South Carolina vs. Gonzaga, NCAA Tournament recap, final score: Gamecocks fall in semifinal to the Bulldogs

Gamecocks comeback, fall-short in Arizona.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-South Carolina vs Gonzaga Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks fell in Arizona to the Gonzaga Bulldogs after a hard-fought affair. Down by double-digits during the first ten minutes of the second half, the Gamecocks roared back to take the lead. Gonzaga rebounded and just made more plays down the stretch to come away with the win. Up three with the shot-clock off, the Bulldogs fouled Sindarius Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left to send him to the line. He made the first, then intentionally missed the second but Gonzaga got the rebound and put the game away from the free throw line for a 77-73 victory.

  1. This game got off to a surprisingly fast start. With two of the top defensive teams in the nation on the floor, not many expected 81 points between the two from the half. Especially if Thornwell and Przemek Karnowski only combined for only 11 of those points. Thornwell just could not get going in the first half. The only shot he made from the floor was a three that bounced in high off the glass after popping off the rim. Karnowski had a much better half, scoring 9 points and grabbing 4 rebounds, already besting his tournament average. He went to the bench in the final five minutes of the half after an eye injury from a Chris Silva block. Silva was active during the first half but missed a lot of good looks. He scored 7 on 8 shots with 4 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Justin McKie played a fantastic first 20 minutes for the Gamecocks. He led the team with 8 points at the break. Gonzaga stretched the lead to 9 after a 14-5 run in the final four minutes to end the half. Nigel Williams-Goss had a game-high 12 points at the break while Jordan Mathews shot 3-5 from three to score 9. The Bulldogs also got 14 points from Zach Collins (8) and Silas Melson (6) from the bench. As a team, they shot 58 percent from the floor during the first half, 21 points higher than the Gamecocks.
  2. The Gamecocks had to slow down the game in the second half. During the first five minutes of the second half, the lead stay around 9-11 points. Gonzaga kept on getting inside buckets to answer Carolina scores. Both teams went cold from outside but Gonzaga was dominated the glass, leading to consistent points in the paint. In the second five minutes, Williams-Goss hit 20 points for the game. He hit an and-one to push the lead to 14 with 11 minutes remaining. Chris Silva responded with an and-one of his own, hitting double figures. The Gamecocks went to the press after that basketball.
  3. The Gamecocks started rolling when the clock hit 10 minutes. A Thornwell three cut the lead to 6 and forced Gonzaga to call a timeout. A Dozier put-back capped off a 14-0 run to tie the game with 7:39 remaining. Karnowski got going after that to put Gonzaga back up. Both teams traded baskets from there and with two minutes left Gonzaga was up two. The Gamecocks got a stop and a lucky break off a Dozier error to retain the ball with 1:45 left. Carolina failed to score after a few looks and Gonzaga controlled a rebound with under 40 seconds. They had a chance to end it but Carolina got a stop to get the ball down three with 12 seconds left. The Thornwell foul situation then occurred and Gonzaga came away with the win.

Dozier finished with 17 points to lead the team while Thornwell scored 15 on 12 shots. Gonzaga was led by Williams-Goss who finished with 23. Collins was huge off the bench for the Bulldogs. He finished with a double-double, scoring 14 and grabbing 13 rebounds.

The Gamecocks historic run comes to an end in the semifinals. Despite the deficit in the second half, they never quit and came up just short.