Collins stars for Gonzaga in what could be only NCAA run

Gonzaga players celebrate on the court over their victory over SC in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Gonzaga and SC will have the first game of the semifinal doubleheader, with North Carolina and OR to follow. But suddenly, SC - a No. 7 seed making a surprise trip to its first-ever Final Four - fought back.

(AP Photo/Matt York). South Carolina's Jarrell Holliman goes up for a basket during a practice session for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, March 31, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Sure, Berry looks set for Saturday's national semifinals.

Gonzaga looked as if it was going to run away from SC, as it had in the previous round against Xavier.

The Zags put three different players on Thornwell, mixed up their defenses and hounded the 6-5, 210-pound senior all over the floor.

The 6-foot-9-inch junior forward has been a monster on the glass, averaging 12.5 rebounds going back to the Pac-12 semis against California.

Karnowski has been battling a back issue.

"I just had to use my length, my hands and stuff to get blocks and help our team to win", Collins said. "Basically any movement where my disc had pressure was painful".

"I had no idea we were going to end up here based on my observations then". Their big men dominated inside.

"Obviously I'm bigger than 99.9 percent of the players in the NCAA", Karnowksi said.

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They shot 58% in the first half, a stat that just isn't seen against SC. The referees always talk and I want to see their perspective. "I probably should have passed it, but luckily it went in". They're 206-39 these last six years, losing double-digit games just once.

"I don't know if we were anxious, but we were a little shocked", freshman Zach Collins said. We're focusing on Oregon.

Gonzaga absorbed the blows, counterpunched and now has another game to play, this one for the national championship. "And so for us, we're just trying to focus on OR and that's it".

Gonzaga controlled the first half, making 20-of-34 field goals, but couldn't break away as the Gamecocks made some timely shots and only turned it over four times.

"Just an awesome, awesome basketball game, with just how hard both teams competed", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "I think overall he did good". And it's not easy to get here, but it's easier at those two places, and I'm not trying to be humble, I'm being what I think is truthful. I wanted to get here. "I don't pat myself too much about that".

SC had the ball exactly where it wanted it, in the hands of senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, with the game and its season on the line.

"I'm going to share this with you, but he said to me last night, 'Man, I feel like I'm letting everyone down, '" SC coach Frank Martin said.

"There's something powerful when you impact others", Martin said. Letting who down? The game's Saturday. You have to focus on the right things and stay focused. But he's in good spirits.

"The journey we've been on has just been unreal". North Carolina won 77-76. It's not an exaggeration to say that this will be the biggest game in program history for both teams. "But it does give us more confidence knowing that he'll be out there with us".

The Gamecocks would get one last chance.

OR averages 78.9 points per game while the Tar Heels average 85.0 points, scoring 80 or more 26 times, 90 or more 17 times and over 100 six times. And we've been on them to show emotion.

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