Monday, 24 April, 2017

Meeks shoots, and rebounds, and saves the day for Tar Heels

Denzelle Lawson Denzelle Lawson
Jeannie Matthews | 17 April, 2017, 05:50

The 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four tips off this evening in Glendale, Ariz. featuring Gonzaga, Oregon, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Smith scored five of her 14 points in the last three minutes to draw Cardinal to within three points of the Gamecocks before Stanford's shooting escaped them with SC winning 62-53 at American Airlines Arena, Dallas. Chris Silva converted a three-point play to start a 16-0 run. Zach Collins answered with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga back on top and the Bulldogs held on from there.

When Karnowski wasn't the difference, it was Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who at halftime had 12 points three rebound and three assists.

They may be in a mid-major conference, but they were led on Saturday by a pair of blue-chip recruits in Williams-Goss, the senior point guard who transferred from Washington, and Collins, the freshman 7-footer who, despite coming off the bench behind skilled senior 7-footer Przemek Karnowski, has one-and-done National Basketball Association potential. He stayed down for several minutes before making to the bench and going to the locker room. Thornwell made the first free throw and purposely missed the second before the Bulldogs hauled in the rebound to effectively seal the victory with 2.2 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs will start three transfers - Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Johnathan Williams (Missouri) and Jordan Mathews (California) - against SC on Saturday. Four Gamecocks reached double-figures, led by P.J. Dozier with 17.

"I can't believe that shot went in", Collins elated, mimicking the odd path of the ball with his hands. Collins was even better, with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. It was simply his size and girth that presented the biggest issue for SC, though, as they have no one on the roster to match it.

The Bulldogs maintained a slim lead from there and led 75-72 with 12.7 seconds left as the Gamecocks set up a final play.

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Ask the Gamecocks (26-10) about Gonzaga's defense and rim protection is mentioned again and again.

"When things got tough, we banded together and pulled through", Williams-Goss said.

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks defends Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.

Cardinal senior captain Karlie Samuelson, the nation's leading 3-point shooter at 49 percent, rolled her ankle with 4:30 left in the first half and was carried off by her teammates. Average attendance for Cardinals games is about 64,000. The last team to win a national title in their first appearance in the game was UConn back in 1999.

Thornwell made the first shot. "But I told him, 'Buddy, you got 16 rebounds, we wouldn't have been in this position if it hadn't been for you'".

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