Gonzaga holds off South Carolina to reach final

Gonzaga will play for its first national title, but the Bulldogs took the hard way to Monday's final.

The Bulldogs squandered all of a 14-point second-half lead before rallying and holding on with two late free throws, ending the surprising tournament run of South Carolina with a 77-73 victory in a Final Four game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday.

Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss led the way with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists, and 7-foot freshman Zach Collins came off the bench to post 14 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Click through images of Gonzaga's 2017 March Madness run:

18 PHOTOS
Gonzaga's 2017 March Madness run
See Gallery
Gonzaga's 2017 March Madness run
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 16: Jordan Mathews #4 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks on in the first half against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 16: Przemek Karnowski #24 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Mike Daum #24 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits compete for a loose ball in the first half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 16: Mike Daum #24 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits handles the ball against Johnathan Williams #3 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 16: Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks to pass against Tevin King #2 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the second half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: The Gonzaga Bulldogs bench reacts against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 18, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: Przemek Karnowski #24 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs grabs the rebound against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 18, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: Zach Collins #32 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs is defended by Dererk Pardon #5 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 18, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs is defended by Scottie Lindsey #20 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 18, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Tarik Phillip #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives against Nigel Williams-Goss #5 and Silas Melson #0 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Jordan Mathews #4 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs goes up against Esa Ahmad #23 and Lamont West #15 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Lamont West #15 of the West Virginia Mountaineers goes up against Killian Tillie #33 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: The Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate their 61 to 58 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 25: Sean O'Mara #54 of the Xavier Musketeers is defended by Zach Collins #32 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 25: Josh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs attempts a shot against the Xavier Musketeers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 25: Trevon Bluiett #5 of the Xavier Musketeers is boxed out by Killian Tillie #33 and Josh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 25: The Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate their 83 to 59 win over the Xavier Musketeers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 25: Josh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs cuts down the net after their 83 to 59 win over the Xavier Musketeers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Backup post player Killian Tillie made two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to seal the victory.

Gonzaga (37-1) will play the winner of North Carolina-Oregon on Monday night.

Top-seeded Gonzaga was on cruise control with about 11 minutes left, up 65-51 when Williams-Goss flipped in a driving layup and made a free throw for a three-point play.

South Carolina forward Chris Silva answered with a three-point play of his own, igniting a 16-0 run in the next 3:33, capped by two free throws by Rakym Felder for a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to go.

Collins regained the lead for Gonzaga when his 3-pointer bounced around and in, starting a 7-0 run in which center Przemek Karnowski had a dunk and a layup.

South Carolina had a chance to tie the score at 74, but Felder's spinning layup was blocked by Collins, who was fouled with 1:35 to go. He made one attempt.

The Gamecocks missed two shots on the other end but got one more chance to tie the score, taking possession with 12.7 seconds left. They didn't get a shot.

Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins committed a foul with 3.5 seconds to go, sending guard Sindarius Thornwell to the line. He made the first and line-drived the second for a deliberate miss, but the rebound stayed near the rim, allowing Tillie to grab it and be fouled.

Tillie made both ends of a one-and-one with 2.2 seconds left.

The Gamecocks (26-11) had reached their first Final Four as a No. 7 seed on the strength of Thornwell's scoring and havoc-creating defense.

But Gonzaga shot 48.3 percent from the field and Thornwell, who averaged a tournament-best 25.8 points before Saturday, might still have been feeling the effects of an illness that kept him out of practice Thursday. He finished with 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Thornwell didn't score until the 6:25 mark of the first half.

Guard PJ Dozier had 17 points to lead South Carolina, which had been strong in the second half throughout the NCAA Tournament, outscoring its opponents by an average of 13.5 points after halftime. This comeback came up just short.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.