Gonzaga

Gonzaga prepared Zach Collins for the NBA in more ways than one

Gonzaga prepared Zach Collins for the NBA in more ways than one

The 2017 NBA draft initially had a handful of Trail Blazers fans scratching their head after the Trail Blazers had facilitated a trade with the Sacramento Kings for Gonzaga big man Zach Collins, who was selected 10th overall by the Kings.

How could a freshman that came off the bench in college be a No. 10 pick? Is this Collins kid just another 7-footer that only shoots the three?

Those types of questions were all over social media.

Since draft day on June 22, 2017, Collins has answered the call and answered those questions in just 146 career games.

[RELATED]: Zach Collins learning from Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside while sidelined

Collins quickly made a name for himself as a defensive-minded big. 

The 2019-20 season didn’t pan out how Collins and the Trail Blazers would’ve hoped with Collins suffering a shoulder injury in the third game of the season.

Collins joined Trail Blazers Courtside with hosts Michael Holton and Jordan Kent this week to discuss how his college days at Gonzaga helped prepare him for the NBA. But, he also mentioned that there was one change he would’ve made during his one year in Spokane.

Coming off the bench, Collins averaged 17.2 minutes per game while shooting an efficient 65.2 percent from the floor during Gonzaga’s 2016-17 season, which ended in a loss in the National Championship game against North Carolina.

That was Gonzaga's first and only appearance in the NCAA National Championship game.

It was a game that Collins will never forget, but it wasn’t the NCAA tournament experience that was the biggest factor in helping Big Z be better prepared for the next level.

Nope, it was how Gonzaga head coach Mark Few ran practices similarly to Terry Stotts.  

“It was good that I was at a program that was already kind of run similar to how Portland is ran as an organization,” Collins said on Trail Blazers Courtside. “I mean, it’s different, everyday in the NBA is basketball and nothing else, but just the practices and the way we kind of scheduled our workouts and things like that minus class, it’s kind of similar so I’m happy that prepared me.”

Collins appeared in all 39 games for the Zags, reaching double-digit scoring 20 times.

He averaged 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blockers per game. His 65.2 FG percentage was a West Coast Conference-best.

But, as Trail Blazers fans have come to love Collins' tenacious approach on the defensive end, the Las Vegas native has always poured his heart and soul into that end of the floor.

In his one season with the Bulldogs, he blocked a West Coast Conference-best 69 shots, which was the second-most in a season in Gonzaga history. He blocked a total of 18 shots in the NCAA Tournament (3.0 per game).

As Collins continued to reflect on his time at Gonzaga, he told Holton and Kent that conditioning in practicing didn’t mean run a set of lines or work without the ball. 

That’s how the Blazers like to run practice as well.

“The playing style... In practice it was a lot of playing, it wasn’t a lot of put the ball down and run. It’s similar to that in the NBA because everything we do -- conditioning, everything -- it’s with the ball in our hands. We play a lot in practice and that’s the main thing. So, I’m glad that I went to a school that I experienced that with before I got to the NBA,” Collins said.

At Gonzaga, Collins was listed at 230 pounds. Growing up he was given the nickname Big Skinny, which he admits he enjoys that name, but in his three years in the league adding muscle has been a huge component in Collins’ development.  

And it’s the one thing that the 22-year-old wishes he would’ve focused on more at Gonzaga.

I think strength was a big factor for my development in this league. If I could go back, I think I would’ve put a little bit more emphasis on that when I was in college, going into the league. I always worked hard. I always wanted to be in the weight room, but I think if I could’ve been a little better with my diet, maybe that one year I was at Gonzaga it would’ve helped me be more prepared going into my rookie year. -- Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins on Trail Blazers Courtside

Collins is now listed at 250 pounds.

He went from Big Skinny to Big Z during the summer of his rookie to sophomore season. Much has been made about Collins putting on weight, but making sure to not put it on too quickly that it would affect his game.

Now after rehabbing his left shoulder for the past five months following November’s surgery to repair his left labrum, Collins, the Trail Blazers, and Blazers fans are all eager to see Big Z out on the court again.  

As are Gonzaga fans. Once a Zag, always a Zag. 

Battle Ground junior and Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry puts family first both on and off the court

Battle Ground junior and Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry puts family first both on and off the court

Family.

Being apart of one doesn’t always mean you're blood-related.

In fact, that word often means a lot more than its standard definition.

When groups of people share a common bond or a common interest, they can form that family connection, and that is as thick as their own blood relatives-- and sometimes stronger.

Over the past few years, the Boys Basketball team at Battle Ground High School has been establishing that sense of family-- And a sense of accomplishment.  

Being a family is what Battle Ground Boys Basketball head coach Manny Melo is all about this season.

“We’ve tried to instill [being a family] in our program a lot this year,” Coach Melo said. “We have it on our shooting shirts this year with the word 'family' written across our back and this team definitely feels like a tight-knit group.”

 

 

Battle Ground made it to the Boys State Tournament last year for the first time in 17 years.

Within this group of six seniors and six juniors this season, there is team captain Kaden Perry who has stood out as a basketball player and as a person.   

A junior, Perry stands at 6’9” and towers over his teammates. But that's not the only thing that separates Perry from being your average 17 year-old, and it has nothing to do with his athletic skill or work ethic.

Perry has been through more at his young age than some go through in a lifetime.

During Perry’s freshman year of high school, his mother, DeLena, became ill. What seemingly began as a normal bug turned into a rare disease. DeLena was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2018, which is a condition where the immune system attacks the nerves. DeLena was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.  

It’s scary. It was like one day she was waking up every morning making breakfast for me, taking care of me, and then the next day it’s like I’m the one doing that role and I’m the one that has to take care of the family and stuff like that. It’s brought my family a lot closer, and it’s definitely tested our bonds. But all together, it’s made us way closer. – Tigers big man Kaden Perry

“It was a really hard time,” Perry added.

The Tigers starting big man became a master juggler. He was forced to balance the care of his mom, worrying about her constantly, to stay on top of his school work, and still had to find time to improve his hoop game.

Yet, with Perry’s mother being his number one fan, Perry was able to draw inspiration from that and balance his family, school, and basketball life.

When Perry was asked who has been his life's inspiration, he didn’t hesitate-- “That’s easily my mom. I mean she’s gone through so much and she’d always been there, always been my number one supporter no matter what she’s going through. She’s definitely been my number one inspiration.”

Perry found balance and peace with his mom receiving treatment over the last year and a half; he also found time to take calls from colleges who were trying to recruit him.   

Just taking it one step at a time. It’s a lot sometimes – take care of mom here, I know I have basketball -- everything is just a set time, so just trying to find the right balance of everything and making sure that I get my priorities done to get where I want to go. 

The University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the University of Washington all showed interest in Perry.

But, Perry's heart has always been set on one school: Gonzaga University.

"That’s always been my goal. That’s been my dream college for as long as I can remember… I talked to colleges here and there, and got offers [here and] there and was like, ‘gosh, I wonder if I’m like getting to that point where I’ll get that call from Gonzaga or that talk from Gonzaga…’ When they finally offered to me, I was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s the one!’”

Gonzaga is the one for Perry. It’s apparent when talking with him that he can’t wait to be a part of Mark Few’s program in Spokane. The Bulldogs are currently the No. 1 team in the nation after their blowout win over Eastern Washington and Villanova's upset victory over the then top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Of course, beyond recruiting and rankings, there's one thing that makes Perry light up even more than thinking about becoming the next great Zag: It's knowing that his mother is on the mend.

“It’s a slow recovery process, but she’s slowly getting better and she’s walking with a walker now. She’s showing up to my games.”

A smile beams across Perry's face. “It’s a slow process, but she’s getting better.”

Perry couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to look up and see his mother back in the stands cheering him on.
“She’s always been my number one fan... It’s awesome to see her out there now and especially because it means so much more because it’s a lot more difficult for her to get out there and knowing that she’s still putting in the effort to come see my games is awesome.”

It comes as no surprise the word 'family' resonates with Perry. It's one of the reasons Perry was drawn to the Gonzaga Basketball program.

"It’s a team, but it’s a family, as well. And everyone seems to have a really close connection. That’s really exciting.”

After sitting down and talking with Perry, it’s no surprise that Gonzaga recruited him. GU has been known for finding talented kids with extremely high work ethics, who put family first. 

That’s Kaden Perry.

He will join the long list of Zags who have been known as extremely great basketball players and even better people.

That list includes Washington-grown Dan Dickau and Casey Calvary to Canadians Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk. And let's not forget the Stockton family, John and David. 

The German writer Goethe once said, "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

And while there's the old addage, "You don't choose your family," try telling that to Kaden Perry.

He still has a year and a half with his mom in Battle Ground before joining the GU family, but there’s no doubt the Gonzaga program will be there with open arms to receive him when the time comes to transition from one family to the next. 

Perry will suit up with his fellow Tigers in the Les Schwab Invitational beginning on December 26th at Liberty High School. More info about the tournament can be found here.

Gonzaga draftees make history in more ways than one

Gonzaga draftees make history in more ways than one

Basketball fans around the country may still not know that Gonzaga University is nestled away in Spokane, Washington. And, they may not know how to properly pronounce Gonzaga or Spokane, but NCAA and NBA fans do know that the Zags have produced some NBA level talent and have been a force to be reckoned with come March.

Twenty-four Gonzaga players have now been drafted to play at the next level and eight of those NBA draftees have come in the last 10 years.

Gonzaga Forward Rui Hachimura made history this year.

Hachimura became the first Japanese player ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, when he was picked No. 9 overall to the Washington Wizards.

The son of a Japanese mother and a father from the West African nation of Benin, Hachimura's athleticism did not go unnoticed in his three years as a bulldog. The 21-year-old averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists his junior year.

This year’s draft marked the first time in program history that the Zags produced two first-round picks with Hachimura and teammate Brandon Clarke.

Clarke started 36-of-37 games last season for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.9 points per game and 8.6 rebounds. He also became Gonzaga’s all-time leader for blocks in the season, with 117.

The Phoenix native was drafted 21st overall by Memphis, after the Grizzlies acquired the pick in a draft-night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The last time a West Coast Conference team had a pair of first-round picks was back in 1978 when the San Francisco Dons’ James Hardy was selected 11th and Winford Boynes was taken at No. 13.

As for Gonzaga, the program has produced seven first-rounders overall.

GU has had two players selected in the same draft twice. The most recent draft was in 2017 with Trail Blazers lottery pick Zach Collins and second-rounder Nigel Williams-Goss.

Gonzaga’s Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins went undrafted this year. However, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Norvell will reportedly sign a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. While Perkins has reportedly agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN.

From Zags to Hawks? Gonzaga's Zach Norvell Jr. is headed south for a pre-draft workout

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USA Today Images

From Zags to Hawks? Gonzaga's Zach Norvell Jr. is headed south for a pre-draft workout

Before Gonzaga sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. travels to Brooklyn, New York for the NBA Draft in June, he’ll make a stop in the ATL first. 

According to the Atlanta Hawks, Norvell Jr., who averaged 14.9 points and 3.1 assists last season with the Zags last season, will take part in a pre-draft workout with the team.

The 6-foot-2 guard declared for the NBA Draft after redshirting his first year and then spending two years as Gonzaga’s starting wing. 

I have grown so much from my first day at Gonzaga both on and off the court. I’d like to thank Coach (Mark) Few and the entire GU coaching staff for the past three years, and for their support with this decision.

I am excited to have this chance to fulfill my dream. I want to thank my family, teammates, coaching staff and Zags fans for their support.

Norvell started 36 of 37 games for the Zags in 2019 and led the West Coast Conference with 97 3-pointers while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. The Zags have reached the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament when Norvell has played.

At the end of April, Norvell Jr. was one of three Gonzaga players to receive invites to the NBA Draft Combine, which takes place from May 14-19. He’ll join teammates Brandon Clark and Rui Hachimura in Chicago.

Hey btw, there's a new No. 1 in college basketball

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USA Today Images

Hey btw, there's a new No. 1 in college basketball

Dear basketball fans,

It’s time to wake up—Gonzaga basketball is leading the pack again.

After outlasting then No. 1 Duke in the Maui Invitational title game and dismantling North Dakota State on Monday, the Zags are No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Portland Trail Blazers insider and Gonzaga alum Jamie Hudson sounded off on the Zags early-season success, including their recent win over the Blue Devils. 

"If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that the Zags would beat Duke (ranked Number 1 at the time) outside of the NCAA tournament, when the Blue Devils had a potential number one draft pick, I probably wouldn’t have believed you," Hudson said. "The crazy thing for Gonzaga is that they are without one of their best players, forward Killian Tillie. He’s missed every game so far with an ankle injury."

The Zags are 7-0 despite losing the Gonzaga big man for two months. Tillie, who averaged 12.9 points and shot 58 percent last season, had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his ankle this fall. Senior guard Geno Crandall will also miss six weeks after suffering a fractured right hand in Monday’s practice.

The last time Gonzaga sat atop the AP Top 25 was during the 2016-17 season, the year they reached the NCAA National Championship game, where they lost to North Carolina.

Blazers forward Zach Collins, who played a crucial role in the Zags championship run in 2017, says he likes what he's seeing from his former team so far. 

“They’re playing really well," Collins said. "All preseason long I’ve been hearing that they could be as good as the team that made it to the Final Four. So hopefully they keep it going.”

The next challenge for Gonzaga is coming up this Saturday as the Zags travel to Creighton for a Best in the West vs. Best in the East showdown. They will next face Washington on Dec. 5, Tennessee on Dec. 9 in Phoenix and North Carolina on Dec. 15, the two teams' first meeting since UNC edged Gonzaga for the NCAA title. 

"The UNC-Gonzaga rematch from the 2017 National title game has all of Zag Nation marking their calendars for December 15th when the Bulldogs square off with the Tar Heels," Hudson said. 

If Gonzaga can make it through December, mark your calendars for the Final Four. We’ve got a legit contender on our hands.

Brackets Revealed for PK80

Brackets Revealed for PK80

The brackets for the much-hyped PK80 tournament have been released, and if you are a fan of college basketball you are in for a treat.

The tournament, boasted as one of the largest regular season tournaments in college basketball history, features 16 teams – a list that includes a combined 24 National Championships, three of last season’s Final Four teams, as well as five other teams that made the field of 64 last season.

PK80 will consist of two brackets, “Victory” and “Motion,” with each bracket crowning their own champion over the weekend. 

According to a press release, the names were chosen to pay tribute Nike and Phil Knight –

- “Victory”: In Greek mythology, Nike was considered the goddess of Victory

- “Motion”: The swoosh logo is not only meant to represent motion, but to also resemble the wings of the goddess Nike

Here is a quick breakdown of both:

VICTORY:

The “Victory” bracket will play host to local teams Oregon and Portland, 2017 National Champions North Carolina, as well as UConn, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Arkansas.

Round 1 will see North Carolina vs Portland, Arkansas vs Oklahoma, Georgetown vs Michigan State, and UConn vs Oregon.

MOTION:

“Motion” will be headlined by 2017 runner-up and Northwest favorite Gonzaga, along with fellow local school Portland State. They will be joined by Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, Texas, Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, and Butler.

Round 1 will see Duke vs Portland State,  Butler vs Texas, Florida vs Stanford, and Gonzaga vs Ohio State.

Click here to view a printable bracket

The two brackets will run simultaneously at Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum from Thursday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 26, with no games being played on Saturday.

Note: The champsions of the individual brackets will not play eachother, instead the brackets are being treated like two individual tournaments. 

For more information visit pkinvitational.com

 

 

 

Gonzaga's Zach Collins has 'funny' encounter with Trail Blazers at NBA Combine

Gonzaga's Zach Collins has 'funny' encounter with Trail Blazers at NBA Combine

CHICAGO – Gonzaga center Zach Collins met with 13 teams at the NBA Combine, but it was his first meeting – with the Trail Blazers – that left an impression.

“It was kind of funny because Portland actually just sent out their team psychologist, and no one else from the staff was there,’’ Collins said. “The lady gave me a computer and I took a personality test, kind of, and she just analyzed who I was as a person, and that was it.’’

The Blazers since 2007 have employed Dana Sinclair as their performance psychologist, and her biggest role usually comes at the Combine, where she adds another layer to the team’s research on prospects.

What would Sinclair find with the 7-foot Collins, who became Gonzaga’s first one-and-done player to enter the draft?

“I’m just a regular guy who has an absolute obsession with the game of basketball, and a passion to play,’’ Collins said. “I’m not going to be satisfied once I get to the league. I want to be an All-Star. I want to win championships.’’

Collins averaged 10 points and 5.9 rebounds in 17 minutes while helping Gonzaga reach the NCAA final. He is projected in the 10-to-15 range of the first round. Portland owns the 15th, 20th and 26th picks in the June 22 draft.

Collins says he believes his versatility – both offensively and defensively – set him apart from a field of centers that include Texas freshman Jarrett Allen and Creighton freshman Justin Patton.

“The fact that my skillset involves me playing on both ends of the floor – shooting, guarding the perimeter, things like that,’’ Collins said.

He said he has always been an inside-out player, meaning he first likes to play inside, but can contribute on the perimeter, but he said one of his draws should be his ability to play in any system.

“I like to run. But I like to play in half court as well,’’ Collins said. “Running plays, running pick and rolls, I love fast breaks too. That’s why I think I’m unique in this draft because I can play multiple types of styles.’’

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

Gonzaga and Mark Few fail to close in historic season, lose 71-65 to North Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz - Gonzaga coach Mark Few came so close to bringing a national championship to the Pacific Northwest, an area the Creswell, Ore., native has called home his entire life. 

But in the final minutes of Monday night's national championship game, his Bulldogs couldn't quite find the mettle to overcome a North Carolina team that forcibly, but narrowly, tiptoed through the best the Northwest had to offer during the Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

The No. 1 Tar Heels, who rank among the bluest of blue bloods this sport has to offer, won their sixth national title, 71-65, just two nights after escaping, 77-76 over Oregon, Few's alma mater and the last Northwest program to win a national (1939). 

The heartbreak following the loss was real for Few and his team. This was Gonzaga's chance to do something many thought was close to impossible - win a national title as a mid-major out of the WCC

“I’m hoping it will settle in and we will feel better tomorrow and in the days to come," Few said. "It doesn’t feel that great right now for a couple reasons. You’re right there on the brink of a national championship. You want to give that to your team and your program. But at the same time, the other thing that just crushes you is that you don’t get to coach these guys ever again. That was going to happen whether we won or lost, so that’s the one that kind of really hurts. But I couldn’t be prouder."

Gonzaga had ample opportunity to pull this game out. The Bulldogs led 65-63 in a game that was about as appealing to watch as bricks being laid. In this game, the bricks were being launched toward the rims at an alarming rate. 

North Carolina (33-7) made just 26 of 73 shots (35.6 percent) and shot 4 of 27 from three-point range. Gonzaga (37-2) shot 33.9 percent on 20-of-59 shooting and committed 14 turnovers, compared to a stellar four for North Carolina.

"First of all, they were excellent tonight, defensively," Few said. "They disrupted us. They climbed up into us, kind of drove our offense outside the normal area, as far as our wing touches and our entries. And we didn't do a good job of probably executing that."

Yet, there the Bulldogs were, leading with 1:53 remaining in the game. From that point on, however, Gonzaga appeared to be stuck in mud, especially guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who had given Gonzaga the lead with a jumper. 

First, NC forward Justin Jackson tied the game on a jump shot before seconds later being fouled by Williams-Goss. Jackson made a free throw that gave NC a 66-65 lead it would never relinquish. Williams-Goss went on to miss a jumper that led to Tar Heels center Kennedy Meeks scoring on a short shot to give North Carolina a 68-65 lead with 26 seconds remaining. 

Williams-Goss came back again to try to tie the game but Meeks blocked his shot and that led to a breakaway dunk by Jackson to make it 70-65 with 12 seconds remaining. 

Gonzaga's final possession resulted in a turnover and that was that.  

In Williams-Goss' defense, he did sprain his ankle late in the game.

"Sprained it pretty good," he said. "It was the same ankle that I hurt last game so it was still a little bit weak. Stepped on it wrong and rolled it. But my adrenaline was rushing. Like I said last game, nothing was going to stop me from finishing out this game. So that's what happened."

A lot of interesting things happened for both teams, mostly mediocre. This was not a well played game. The officiating seemed to be a bit whistle-happy, calling 44 personal fouls with 27 foul calls in the first half. However, Few offered no excuses in that area. 

"I had no issue whatsoever," he said. "I thought they did a fabulous job. And I'm on the losing end. And it's just not an easy game to ref. And we're throwing the ball inside. They're throwing the ball inside. Our guards go downhill. Their guards go downhill. So, I thought they were great."

Gonzaga shouldn't blame anyone but itself for the loss. The Bulldogs, like the Ducks two nights prior, blew several opportunities late with their respective games against North Carolina on the line. 

What maybe mattered most in both cases was that the experience of the Tar Heels, who lost last year's national championship game, 77-74, to Villanova on a buzzer-beater. 

North Carolina, who called this season the "Redemption Tour," has now been to 20 Final Fours. Oregon - one in 78 years. Gonzaga - its first ever. 

The Bulldogs could have other looks at claiming a national championship. Maybe next time they will cash in. Maybe not. Either way, this season made it clear that a team from a second-tier conference could compete with the best of the best. 

"How many teams would take 37-2, league champs, national runner-up?" Gonzaga guard Jordan Matthews said. "We broke that glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over. Everybody was saying how the Zags couldn't get to the Final Four. So we did that."

And then some. 

Gonzaga's national title bid falls short in 71-65 loss to North Carolina

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Gonzaga's national title bid falls short in 71-65 loss to North Carolina

North Carolina 71, Gonzaga 65

How Gonzaga lost: No. 1 Gonzaga (37-2) fell just short of defeating No. 1 North Carolina (33-7) in the NCAA championship game, losing 71-65 Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

North Carolina, which defeated Oregon 77-76 in the Final Four on Saturday, scored the game's final eight points to erase a 65-63 deficit with 1:53 remaining after Nigel Williams-Goss scored on a jump shot for Gonzaga. 

The game-clincher came on a breakaway dunk from NC's Justin Jackson following center Kennedy Meeks blocking a shot by Williams-Goss with Gonzaga down three points. Jackson's dunk made the score 70-65 with 12 seconds remaining in the game.  

Both teams played horribly. Gonzaga shot 33.9 percent on 20-of-59 shooting. That was compounded by 14 turnovers compared to four for North Carolina. The Tar Heels were brutal on offense, making just 26 of 73 shots (35.6 percent) and shot 4 of 27 from three-point range. 

Key sequence: The brick-littered game appeared to be destined for a close finish, and the Bulldogs had the upper hand for a brief moment after Williams-Gosss' jumper game Gonzaga a lead, 65-63. Jackson scored to tie then Williams-Gosss fouled him seconds later leading to a free throw that gave NC a 66-65 lead with 1:40 on the clock. 

Williams-Gosss followed up by missing a jump shot that led to Meeks scoring on a jumper following him corralling an offensive rebound following a missed shot by Joel Berry II. That made the score 68-65, NC with 26 seconds remaining. 

Williams-Gosss came back again to try to tie it but had his shot blocked by Meeks, leading to the Jackson dunk to ice the game. 

Top performers: Williams-Gosss led Gonzaga with 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. He also had six assists and nine rebounds. 

Josh Perkins had 13 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs. 

Berry was named Final Four MVP after giving NC 22 points and six assists. NC forward Isaiah Hicks had 13 points and nine rebounds. 

Poor performances: Justin Jackson, NC's best player, made just 6 of 19 shots and went 0 for 9 from three-point range. But he made some clutch baskets late. 

Przemek Karnowski had a rough night inside against North Carolina's big men. He finished 1 of 8 from the field for nine points and nine rebounds. 

 

Gonzaga advances to NCAA finals after 77-74 win over South Carolina

Gonzaga advances to NCAA finals after 77-74 win over South Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Gonzaga Bulldogs held on to a slim lead late to defeat South Carolina, 77-74, in the Final Four and earned their first ever trip to the NCAA championship game Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Gonzaga will play the winner of today's second game between No. 3 Oregon (33-5) and No. 1 North Carolina (31-7). 

Killian Tillie made two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to give No. 1 Gonzaga (37-1) a 77-73 lead that held up in the final moments. Up until that point, it appeared that the No. 6 Gamecocks (26-11) could steal this one from coach Mark Few and the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga led 65-51 with 10:55 remaining in the second half and appeared to have this game wrapped up when the Gamecocks went on a 14-0 run to tie the game at 65 apiece with 7:39 remaining. PJ Dozier's jumper tied the game. After a Gonzaga timeout, Rakym Felder made two free throws to give South Carolina the lead, 67-65. 

Gonzaga responded by regaining control of the game with a three-pointer from Zach Collins and then a dunk from Przemek Karnowski to take a 70-67 lead that grew to 74-69 with three minutes remaining.

South Carolina got to within 74-72 before Felder missed a jumper that would have tied the game with 1:36 remaining. Zach Collins got the rebound for Gonzaga and make both free throws then seconds later blocked a layup attempt by Gonzaga's Sindarius Thornwell with 1:21 remaining. 

Later, Dozier missed a three-point attempt and then a shorter jump shot following an offensive rebound with the Gamecocks down three. 

With 12 seconds remaining and the score, 75-72, Gonzaga, South Carolina had the ball and a chance. But the Bulldogs intentionally fouled Thornwell with three seconds remaining in the game to prevent the Gamecocks from getting off a three-point attempt.

Thrornwell made the first then missed the second, resulting Tillie getting the defensive rebound, getting fould and then making two free throws to ice the win. 

Nigel Williams-Goss led Gonzaga with 23 points and six assists. Collins had 14 points and 13 rebounds off of the bench. 

South Carolina shot just 37.9 percent compared to 48.3 for Gonzaga. Chris Silva led the Gamecocks with 13 points and 13 rebounds. 

Gonzaga led just 38-36 after South Carolina's Justin McKie made a three-pointer with 2:27 remaining in the half of a back-and-forth affair. Then the Bulldogs caught fire. Collins rebounded a Jordan Mathews miss and scored on a layup to jump start 7-0 run to close the half. Williams-Goss made a jumper and then Mathews hit a three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining to give Gonzaga a 45-36 lead at halftime.