Gonzaga Knocks off West Virginia, Books March Madness Elite 8 Spot

March Madness NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 scores as No. 1 Gonzaga beats West Virginia to advance to the tournament Elite Eight on Thursday night.

Nigel Williams-Goss of the Gonzaga Bulldogs

Nigel Williams-Goss of the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the NCAA Tournament 2017

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jordan Mathews knocked down a key 3-point jumper and No. 1 seed Gonzaga battled to a 61-58 victory over fourth seed West Virginia in the West Regional semifinals on Thursday night.

Mathews, who was sitting on the bench with four fouls, answered his call with a big bucket with 52.9 seconds left to send the Bulldogs (35-1) into the Elite Eight for the third time in school history.

Mathews finished with 13 points with Johnathan Williams and Przemek Karnowski also ending with 13.

Williams also grabbed six rebounds, while Karnowski finished with five.

Nigel Williams-Goss had 10 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga, which joins Oregon as the first two teams into the Elite Eight.

Jevon Carter led West Virginia with 21 points, but the Mountaineers (29-8) wasted three tries to tie the game in the last 38 seconds of the game.

“To know you were so close and you gave everything you had and to come up sort, it hurts,” said Carter.

Carter, who ran down most of the shot clock trying to get beyond Gonzaga’s defense, missed two 3-pointers and Tarik Phillip missed a shot from the lane as the buzzer sounded.

“All year we’ve been banking on our defense, our defense, our defense,” coach Mark Few said after the game.

“Our defense stepped up and got it done there at the end. So we are absolutely elated to continue to be playing. We’re 40 minutes away from a Final Four.”

The contest featured 51 fouls, while the teams combined for on 34 made baskets.

“We had never come across that throughout the season. It wasn’t frustration. It was more like, I don’t know, confusion, trying to figure it out,” Mathews said after the Bulldogs made just 18 shots from the field on Thursday night.

“But just staying the course and just rallying around our guys and just thinking about the defensive end, helped my offense in the end.”

West Virginia shot only 26.7 percent from the floor and made just 16 field goal attempts.

“You tell me another team in the country who can shoot 26 percent from the field against a No. 1 seed, 21 percent from 3 and still could have, should have won the game,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said.

“That says a lot about what kind of guys we have.”

Gonzaga moves on to play Xavier for a spot in the Final Four after the No. 11 seed Musketeers upset second seed Arizona 73-71 in their Sweet 16 outing.

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