NCAA semifinals

Final Four

About a week has gone by since each of the remaining teams advanced. Over the week, anticipation crept into the each team’s mind. Anticipation finally turns into excitement today as the Final Four finally got underway in Phoenix. Yesterday’s NCAA semifinals were both thrillers.

Gonzaga and North Carolina came into their games as favorites. Expectations have been high for the two one-seeds, but they are both facing tough teams that aren’t;t afraid of taking down giants. Oregon faced challenge after challenge in their path with wins over one-seed Kansas in the Elite Eight. South Carolina, on the other hand, took down a two, three and four seed to reach their first Final Four in school history. Neither team will be overlooked, especially on this stage.

Gonzaga (1) Takes Care of  South Carolina (7) 77-73

Early on, both teams were neck and neck with neither team taking control. It took till about the five-minute mark of the first half for one team to take control. Gonzaga rattled off a 14-5 run to end the first half. They’ve been able to win the end of halves during the tournament which has helped them get to where they are now. The lead stayed with Gonzaga for most of the second half until South Carolina came storming back. With about 11 minutes to go, Gonzaga led 65-51. At that point, the Gamecocks found their stroke as they went on a 16-0 run to take the lead with seven minutes to go. The Zags responded and took the lead back shortly after the South Carolina run. Ultimately, South Carolina shot poorly throughout the game and their inconsistencies ended any hope of an upset.

The Gamecocks’ leading scorer, Sindarius Thornwell got off to a rough start which ultimately hurt South Carolina with a rough start. Thornwell finished the game shooting 4-12 with 15 points. South Carolina goes where Thornwell takes them, and that meant into the ground in this game. The Bulldogs showed that their star player, Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga point guard, can show up in the big moments. He finished with 23 points on 9-16 shooting, Ultimately, the matchup of Williams-Goss and Thornwell dictated this one. Nigel-Williams worked his butt off, and now Gonzaga is on their way to their first chance to win the NCAA title.

North Carolina (1) Survives Oregon (3) 77-76

Another NCAA game where neither team takes any control early on in the game. Oregon did find themselves with an eight-point lead with about four minutes remaining in the first half. However, North Carolina found a way to come back with a 17-6 run to finish the half. The momentum created by the Tar Heels carried over into the second half. North Carolina never gave up the lead as they took control of the game. Oregon was able to come back late after Tyler Dorsey, Oregon guard, hit a huge three to make the score 77-74. Then the Ducks got the ball back after a missed jumper by Theo Pinson, North Carolina small forward. Oregon tried to find an open three but was forced to settle with a layup with six seconds left. North Carolina was able to get the ball in, go to the free throw line and get an offensive rebound to put away Oregon. The Tar Heels are one of the best in late-game scenarios, and they showed it again.

North Carolina is one of the most dominant and ferocious teams in the country. They showed their physicality in their win tonight. The Tar Heels’ big man, Kennedy Meeks, won the battle over all of the Oregon big man with 25 points and 14 rebounds in the team’s win against Oregon. The Tar Heels rely on their size and interior dominance to win most of their games. Nothing changes in this one as they won 77-76 against a very strong Oregon team. Now they’ll face a tough Gonzaga team for the title on Monday.

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