Nigel Williams-Goss scores 23 points as Zags shake off their overrated tag and set up contest with South Carolina or Florida
Nigel Williams-Gossscored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzagas efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.
Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.
On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his rsum.
Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from three-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West region.
The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next weeks Final Four in Arizona.
JP Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.
The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No2 Arizona in the regional semi-finals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.
The Final Four was the only thing missing on Fews resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginias constant pressure in the regional semifinals.
The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers who doesnt? but had it flowing against Xavier.
Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29% of its 3-point shots after making 37% during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers zone or on kick-outs from centerPrzemek Karnowski.
Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from three-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by half-time.
Half-time did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss andJordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.