On Saturday night in the West Region Elite Eight game, the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Xavier Musketeers 83-59 to reach its first-ever Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Despite making 18 straight NCAA tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight berths, Gonzaga had never made the Final Four. It was the one hole on Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s resume.
Gonzaga Crushes Xavier to Reach its First Final Four
Here is the West Region Elite Eight game recap from Saturday March 25, 2017:
SAP Center – San Jose, CA
1 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (36-1) – 83
11 – Xavier Musketeers (24-14) – 59
The Gonzaga Bulldogs used their top ranked offense and 15th ranked defense to cruise to an easy win over the Xavier Musketeers. In the first half, the Bulldogs beat the Musketeers on both ends of the court.
Gonzaga Shot over 61% from 3-Point Line in First Half
In the first few minutes of the first half, Gonzaga made three three-point shots and had a nearly 60% shooting percentage by the end of the half on 8 of 13 from the three-point line. This high shooting percentage did not bode well for the Musketeers who rely upon their vaunted zone defenses to force team to shoot from the outside.
Xavier did not make a three-point shot until a minute left in the first half. The Musketeers also allowed Gonzaga to score the most points against them in the first half. Gonzaga led 49-39 at halftime.
Gonzaga Widens Lead in Second Half
After halftime, the Bulldogs kept up the pressure and increased their lead from ten points to seventeen points. With the Bulldogs’s offense rolling, their defense kept Xavier from making any run.
Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Forward Johnathon Williams scored 19 points and also had eight rebounds.
Gonzaga Shot Better from the 3-Point Line Than Within the Arc
Gonzaga played like a number one seed and the Musketeers were simply outmatched physically. In the end, Gonzaga shot 47.5% and 50% from the three-point line. In contrast, Xavier shot 35.5% and only 12.5% from the three-point line.
Gonzaga will advance to play the Florida Gators or the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Final Four.
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