Bulldogs survive battle against Mountaineers
No. 1 seed moves to Elite Eight despite rough shooting night GONZAGA 61, WEST VIRGINIA 58
san jose, calif.» Jevon Carter fired up two potential tying 3-pointers only to see them go off-target and Gonzaga didn’t allow West Virginia to get off a third.
A defensive stop was a fitting way for this offensively challenged Sweet 16 matchup to end.
Jordan Mathews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with under a minute to play and topseeded Gonzaga survived a rough shooting night all around to beat No. 4 seed West Virginia 61-58 Thursday night to advance to the West Regional final.
“All year we’ve been banking on our defense, our defense, our defense,” coach Mark Few said. “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 Bulldogs (35-1) needed that defense to make their third Elite Eight in school history on a night that featured 51 fouls and only 34 made baskets. They also needed someone to make a key shot — and Mathews delivered with the 3-pointer that made it 60-58.
“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 of the shooting woes. “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 (29-8) had three shots to tie the game, but Tarik Phillip missed a shot from the lane and Jevon Carter missed two 3-pointers after Silas Melson made one foul shot.
The Mountaineers rebounded both misses but couldn’t get another shot off in the final 13 seconds.
“To know you were so close and you gave everything you had and to come up sort, it hurts,” said Carter, who had a game-high 21 points.
Despite shooting 26.7 percent for the game, West Virginia stayed close and took a 58-55 lead on a 3-pointer by Carter with 1:47 to play.
Nigel Williams-Goss answered with two free throws. After Daxter Miles Jr. missed two fouls shots and Nathan Adrian was blocked by Josh Perkins on the putback, Williams-Goss found Mathews in the corner for the open 3-pointer that proved the game-winner.
“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,” coach Bob Huggins said. “That says a lot about what kind of guys we have.”
Mathews, Przemek Karnowski and Johnathan Williams all had 13 points to lead the Bulldogs.
Former Regis Jesuit High School star Josh Perkins, center, and his Gonzaga teammates celebrate Thursday night after defeating West Virginia 61-58 in San Jose, Calif., to advance to the Elite Eight for the third time in school history. Ezra Shaw, Getty Images