The miraculous run for the South Carolina Gamecocks came to a halt on Saturday afternoon in Glendale, Arizona. The Gamecocks, in their first-ever Final Four, pieced together a terrific effort. In the end however, it was ultimately not enough to knock off the No. 1 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, as the Zags triumphed over the Gamecocks 77-73.
After falling behind by nine at the end of the first half, South Carolina wouldn’t go away quietly. The Gamecocks ripped off a 16-0 run in the middle of the second half, gaining the lead at the 7:06 mark after two free throws from Rakym Felder. The Zags’ counterpunch was effective in its own right, as they answered back for seven straight points to retake the lead. That would be the last time any lead change would go down as South Carolina would only get as close as two points the rest of the way.
Sindarius Thornwell’s illness may’ve plagued him as the mighty Gamecock hero of the past few weeks scored 15 points on 12 shots, only making 33.3 percent of them from the field and an equal percentage from the 3-point line on six attempts from deep. P.J. Dozier showed out, scoring 17 points on 16 shots and Chris Silva and Duane Notice joined them in double figures with 13 and 10.
As you may be able to tell from those numbers, efficiency was a problem for South Carolina. They couldn’t quite rack the code of the Zags’ No. 1-rated defense as they shot just 25-for-66 from the field and 7-for-20 from the 3-point line. By contrast, Gonzaga was able to shoot more than respectably against the Gamecocks’ stingy defense. The Bulldogs made 29 of their 60 field goal attempts and nine of their 19 attempts from downtown.
Gonzaga was able to get contributions from all their stars on Saturday afternoon. Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23, Przemek Karnowski dropped 13 and freshman Zach Collins racked up 14. Jordan Mathews joined them in double figures with 12 points of his own and was 4-for-8 from the 3-point line and served as a magnificent weapon from long range for Mark Few’s bunch.
In the end, South Carolina has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The Gamecocks’ run to the Final Four will live on for generations in Columbia, having accomplished way more than they were originally expected to. So it goes, as they say. Tip of the cap to the Zags, who have all the chops to win it all on Monday night, that’s for sure.