The Latest: Gonzaga wins, advances to title game - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

The Latest: Gonzaga wins, advances to title game

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Gonzaga Bulldogs survived a furious second-half rally by South Carolina to advance to their first national championship game.

South Carolina reeled off 16 straight points to take a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to play. Zach Collins answered with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga back on top and the Bulldogs held on from there.

Collins, a 7-foot freshman, had an impressive stat line: 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in 23 minutes of play.

Gonzaga advances to Monday night's title game against the winner of Saturday night's Oregon-North Carolina agame.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 for the Bulldogs. P.J. Dozier had 17 points for the Gamecocks.

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5:20 p.m.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are headed to the national title game.

Gonzaga weathered a furious second-half rally by South Carolina and held on to beat the Gamecocks 77-73 at the Final Four on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs, who have lost once in 38 games this season, play the winner of the Oregon-North Carolina game for the national championship Monday night.

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4:55 p.m.

South Carolina is displaying more of its patented second-half magic in the NCAA tournament.

Down by 14 to Gonzaga, the Gamecocks came roaring back to take the lead with 7:06 remaining. Their run reached 16-0 at that point before Gonzaga ended its scoreless drought.

The Gamecocks scored on six straight possessions. Meanwhile, Gonzaga, so smooth on offense most of the game, went over three minutes without a score.

South Carolina has trailed at half three times in the tournament, and the Gamecocks have outscored the opposition in the second half by 54 points.

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4:40 p.m.

The decision by Nigel Williams-Goss to leave Seattle is turning out to be a decisive addition for Gonzaga in its bid for the school's first national title.

The guard from Happy Valley, Oregon, played his first two seasons for Lorenzo Romar at Washington but left after the 2014-15 season.

He heated up in the second half, pushing Gonzaga's lead to 14 points with a 3-point play with about 10 minutes to play. He reached 23 points with the 3-point play. That despite turning his ankle a few minutes earlier.

Williams-Goss is averaging about 17 points a game this year.

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4:30 p.m.

South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell missed a day of practice this week after coming down with a fever and headache. And the SEC player of the year's coach acknowledged he wasn't at full strength in the first half against Gonzaga.

Frank Martin said the Gamecocks need to find a way to help out Thornwell. "He obviously doesn't have a lot of energy and bounce in his game right now," Martin said.

Complicating matters for the senior guard is the fact that the Zags guarded him with the 6-foot-9 Johnathan Williams. Long arms and a 4-inch height advantage have helped make things tough for Thornwell.

Thornwell had five points in the first half after averaging 25.8 points through the first four games of the tournament.

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4:15 p.m.

North Carolina will have starting point guard Joel Berry II for Saturday's semifinal against Oregon.

Berry was included on the pregame list of starters. There had been some question about his status this week due to a pair of sprained ankles suffered during the NCAA Tournament, the second coming during the Elite Eight win against Kentucky. The junior had sounded confident about his chances in pregame interviews and pronounced himself "85 percent" on Friday.

The question now is whether — or how much — the injuries affect his play against the Ducks.

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4:05 p.m.

Gonzaga scored the final seven points of the first half to build a 45-36 lead over South Carolina in the Final Four.

The Bulldogs came close to going into halftime with a double-digit lead and on a 10-0 run, but Silas Melson's 3-pointer at the buzzer was waved off.

Nigel Williams-Goss had 12 points to lead Gonzaga, whose surge came without their massive center.

Przemek Karnowski — 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds — took a hand to the face and went down hard under the Gonzaga basket. He stayed down for several minutes before making to the bench and going to the locker room.

Gonzaga shot 58 percent to the Gamecocks' 37 percent.

South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell, the SEC player of the year, had just five points on 1-for-5 shooting.

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3:55 p.m.

Gonzaga suffered a setback late in the first half against South Carolina when big man Przemek Karnowski took a hand to the face and was taken to the locker room to be checked out.

Karnowski was led off the court by trainers after getting hit by South Carolina Chris Silva. He is expected to return.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin walked out on to the court to check on Karnowski. Martin bent over and said, "Are you all right?" An Gonzaga athletic trainer then attended to Karnowski.

The 7-foot-1 center from Poland had six points and four rebounds when he left.

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3:35 p.m.

Sindarius Thornwell has been red hot for South Carolina in the NCAA tournament. Not so much in the first half against Gonzaga.

The SEC player of the year was scoreless through the first 12 minutes of the game. And his backcourt mate Rakym Felder drew the wrath of South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who came onto the court midway through the first half to give a piece of his mind to the freshman guard.

Thornwell averaged 25.8 points through the first four games of the tournament.

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3:25 p.m.

South Carolina is taking a rare approach against Gonzaga by not double teaming Przemek Karnowski.

Previous teams in the NCAA Tournament have sent double teams at the Polish big man and he picked them apart with his deft passing. The Zags made 12 of 24 from 3-point in last week's win over Xavier, many of those coming on kick-outs by Karnowski.

South Carolina has no one who can match the size of the 7-foot-1, 300-pound center, but the Gamecocks have held their ground so far.

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3:15 p.m.

The official who received death threats from Kentucky fans after the Elite Eight is the crew chief for the Final Four game between South Carolina and Gonzaga.

John Higgins worked last weekend's game between North Carolina and Kentucky, which the Tar Heels won 75-73. Kentucky coach John Calipari began his post-game news conference talking about fouls and Kentucky fans began harassing Higgins, who runs a roofing company in Nebraska.

The Sarpy County Sheriff's office in Nebraska said Higgins' roofing company received about 3,000 harassing emails and an unknown number of phone calls, some including death threats. The Facebook page for Higgins' company also was inundated with negative comments.

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3:10 p.m.

It's game time in the desert.

Gonzaga and South Carolina, both in their first Final Four, tipped off as fans poured in to cavernous University of Phoenix Stadium. Gonzaga brought an especially vocal fan contingent to cheer on the basketball-crazy school from Spokane, Washington.

The teams emerged from clouds of artificial smoke to take the court for final pre-game warmups.

The national anthem was performed by female athletes from each of the schools in the Final Four.

The game is being played in a retractable roof stadium, but the roof will be closed for the Final Four matchups.

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2:45 p.m.

Rock music rang out in between commercials on the giant video screen at University of Phoenix Stadium as tens of thousands of fans, paying $40 a pop just to park, filtered in for the semifinals of the Final Four.

South Carolina and Gonzaga meet in the first game, followed by Oregon against North Carolina.

Capacity for the game was more than 70,000, some far, far from the court in the upper reaches of the building. The stadium has been the scene of two Super Bowls and multiple big college football games.

But this is its first Final Four.

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1 p.m.

The NCAA Tournament is ready to carve out its finalists from among the Final Four.

South Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon and North Carolina are the last teams standing in a March Madness field that started with 68 teams.

There are three games left to determine the 2017 champion, starting with two semifinals on Saturday night.

The first game between South Carolina and Gonzaga features a key matchup between two interior players: 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga and South Carolina's Maik Kotsar, who stands at 6-10.

Oregon stands in the way of North Carolina's chance to reach the title game for a second straight year. One key for North Carolina will be the health of point guard Joel Berry II, who has been battling ankle issues but is expected to play.

The winners will play Monday night for the title.

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