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Gonzaga Earns First Shot At Championship With Win Over South Carolina

Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss celebrates his team's win at Saturday night's buzzer for the NCAA semifinals game against South Carolina.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs will advance to their first national championship game, after the Final Four newcomers outlasted the South Carolina Gamecocks with a 77-73 win.

But considering Saturday night's neck-and-neck finish, there wasn't a whole lot of excitement in the University of Phoenix stadium until after halftime.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Gonzaga led with what appeared to be a comfortable 14-point lead. But then, South Carolina tightened its defense, and went on an out-of-nowhere 16-0 streak to take the lead. Gonzaga looked out of sorts, before responding with a 7-0 run of its own.

From then on, the game stayed tight, and the fans came alive. It was a fight to the end with the bigger Bulldogs taking advantage of their twin towers — 7-foot freshman Zach Collins and 7-foot-1 senior Przemek Karnowski.

Despite palpable excitement in the arena, the game felt a bit like an appetizer before the second semifinal — with the explosive, athletic Oregon Ducks (splendiferous in their dark green uniforms) taking the stage against the classic powder-blue-and-white North Carolina, with its 5-time championship pedigree.

The winner of the Oregon-UNC game will face Gonzaga for the title on Monday night.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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