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NCAA Tournament Elite 8 2017: Gonzaga clobbers Xavier to reach first Final Four


NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Gonzaga vs Xavier Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

They finally did it.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points as the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated Xavier, 83-59, on Saturday to earn their first-ever trip to the Final Four.

After consecutive 19 years of falling short, Gonzaga left little room for doubt this time. The teams seemed to trade baskets for the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Bulldogs used scorching outside shooting and the interior presence of Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins to take control.

Williams-Goss and Johnathan Williams hit consecutive threes, then Williams followed with a dunk to put Gonzaga up nine with 5:36 to play in the first half. Following a bizarre sequence to end the half, the Bulldogs went into the locker room up by 10.

The Musketeers never drew closer after that.

Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews added a couple more triples early, and from there, the rout was on.

After years of near-misses, after a tournament of close calls, Gonzaga was able to relax down the stretch. The final minutes became little more than a countdown to a celebration the likes of which Spokane has never seen.

Now, Gonzaga can sit back and wait. The Bulldogs will get the winner of Florida and South Carolina in what will almost certainly be the first national semifinal on April 1. Gonzaga defeated Florida earlier this year, 77-72 in the Advocare Invitational.