Saturday’s NCAA: Gonzaga, Oregon reach Final Four
Kansas City, Mo. — Tyler Dorsey poured in 27 points, Dillon Brooks added 17 and plucky Oregon ended Kansas’ romp through the NCAA Tournament with a 74-60 victory Saturday night that gave the Ducks their first Final Four trip in nearly 80 years.
Dylan Ennis added 12 points for the Ducks (33-5), who took the lead with 16 minutes left in the first half and never trailed again, giving coach Dana Altman his first trip to the national semifinals.
They’ll face the winner of Sunday’s game between North Carolina and Kentucky in Glendale, Arizona.
Player of the year front-runner Frank Mason III had 21 points in his final game for the Jayhawks (31-5), who had rolled to the Elite Eight by an average margin of 30 points. But their dream season ended with a thud just 40 minutes from campus on a night very little went right.
Star freshman Josh Jackson was mired in early foul trouble. Sharpshooting guard Devonte Graham never got on track. And the swagger that the Big 12 champs showed in humiliating Purdue in the Sweet 16 quickly became a distant memory on a night that belonged to the Pac-12 champions.
Altman had never been to the Final Four in 13 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. And the last time the Ducks were on the big stage, it was 1939 and the Tall Firs took home the title.
Jordan Bell added 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks for Oregon, while Jackson was held to 10 points for the Jayhawks in what was almost certainly his final college game.
The bus carrying the Ducks to Sprint Center on Saturday passed right by the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, where thousands of Jayhawk fans were rallying hours before the tipoff.
In other words, they knew they were facing a de facto road game.
But the torrid shooting of Brooks, Ennis and Dorsey quickly riled up the small section of Oregon fans while deflating the rest of sold-out Sprint Center. And foul trouble that sent Jackson to the bench for much of the first half helped allow the Ducks to carve out a comfortable lead.
Dorsey finished the half with back-to-back 3s, including a deep bank shot at the buzzer, as the Ducks pranced to their locker room relishing in a 44-33 advantage.
They kept right on dancing in the second half, beating the Jayhawks at their own game: Getting into transition, passing up good shots for better ones and knocking down 3-pointers.
The Ducks’ lead swelled to 55-37 when Brooks drilled another shot from the perimeter, creating the kind of hole Kansas has rarely faced. And the frustration was on the Jayhawks bench was only compounded every time Jackson or Graham tossed up a shot that clanked hollowly off the iron, their sense of desperation growing with every squandered opportunity.
Jackson didn’t score until midway through the second half. Graham was 0 for 6 beyond the arc.
The Jayhawks eventually began to whittle into the deficit, doing most of the work at the free-throw line, where they were in the bonus with 11 minutes to go. But the Ducks remained poised down the stretch, answering just enough times to keep the crowd from giving Kansas any extra juice.
When Svi Mykhailiuk scored to make it 64-55, Ennis answered with a driving basket. When Mykhailiuk buried a 3 from the corner to make it 66-60 with 2:49 left, Dorsey answered at the other end with another 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired to give Oregon some breathing room.
The Ducks never even bothered with free throws to put the game away.
Gonzaga 83, Xavier 59: At San Jose, California, Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga’s efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag. 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 resume.
Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-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 week’s Final Four in Arizona.
J.P 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 No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.
The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few’s resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia’s constant pressure in the regional semifinals.
The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers — who doesn’t? — but had it flowing against Xavier.
Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent 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 center Przemek 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 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.
Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan 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.