Scott Fowler

Magic spell fades: Gamecocks’ Sin-derella story comes to end vs. Gonzaga

The Sin-derella story finally ended Saturday for the South Carolina Gamecocks, but not until they threw a huge scare into Gonzaga in the first game of the Final Four.

Gonzaga ultimately won, 77-73, to advance to the national final, but the Gamecocks can hold their heads high as they leave the desert knowing that they authored the best season in school history.

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Down by 14 points midway through the second half, the Gamecocks rallied all the way back to take a brief lead. But Gonzaga (37-1) has only lost one game the entire season and showed grit of its own in quickly regaining the lead.

From there, it was a battle to the wire, with the Gamecocks never again quite catching up. South Carolina still has a chance for the women’s basketball national title – that game is Sunday.

Led once again by SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell, whose unusual first name inspired the “Sin-derella” tag, the seventh-seeded Gamecocks made another of the same sort of second-half comebacks against Gonzaga that had vanquished both Duke and Florida.

This time, though, the magic ran out in the desert on April Fools’ Day for South Carolina. Gonzaga (37-1) had just enough behind point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (23 points) and seven-foot behemoth Przemek Karnowski to edge the Gamecocks.

South Carolina had the ball and was down by three points in the final seconds, but Gonzaga smartly fouled Thornwell with 3.5 seconds left. Thornwell made the first and appeared to purposely miss the second, but Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie got the rebound with 2.2 seconds left and made two free throws for the final margin.

The loss quickly ended the idea of an all-Carolina national final Monday night before the North Carolina-Oregon national semifinal was played.

GONZAGA 77, SOUTH CAROLINA 73

SOUTH CAROLINA (26-11): Kotsar 2-4 0-0 4, Silva 3-12 7-9 13, Notice 4-9 0-0 10, Dozier 7-16 2-4 17, Thornwell 4-12 5-6 15, Keita 0-0 0-0 0, Gravett 1-4 0-0 2, McKie 3-3 0-0 8, Felder 1-6 2-3 4. Totals 25-66 16-22 73.

GONZAGA (37-1): Williams 2-4 3-4 7, Karnowski 6-12 1-2 13, Mathews 4-11 0-0 12, Williams-Goss 9-16 3-3 23, Perkins 0-2 0-0 0, Collins 6-10 1-2 14, Tillie 0-0 2-2 2, Melson 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 29-60 10-13 77.

Halftime—Gonzaga 45-36. 3-Point Goals—South Carolina 7-20 (McKie 2-2, Notice 2-5, Thornwell 2-6, Dozier 1-3, Gravett 0-2, Felder 0-2), Gonzaga 9-19 (Mathews 4-8, Melson 2-3, Williams-Goss 2-5, Collins 1-1, Perkins 0-2). Fouled Out—Perkins. Rebounds—South Carolina 35 (Silva 13), Gonzaga 37 (Collins 13). Assists—South Carolina 12 (Notice 3), Gonzaga 15 (Williams-Goss 6). Total Fouls—South Carolina 14, Gonzaga 21.

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