Bull­dogs sur­vive bat­tle against Moun­taineers

No. 1 seed moves to Elite Eight de­spite rough shoot­ing night GON­ZAGA 61, WEST VIR­GINIA 58

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Josh Dubow

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

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