SAN JOSE, CALIF.–Jordan Mathews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer as top-seeded Gonzaga defeated No. 4- seeded West Virginia University 61-58 on Thursday night to advance to the West Regional final.
With 59 seconds remaining, Mathews drained a 3 from the far right corner. The Mountaineers (28-9) had one final chance to tie the game but a bad sequence of events unfolded.
Carter’s deep 3 missed the basket but Miles grabbed the rebound and put the ball back in Carter’s hands. However, the Bulldogs (35-1) smothered him and the junior was unable to get a final shot off.
“That was a mistake on my part,” Carter said. “’I knew they had a lot of guys at the top. I should have drove to the basket, but knowing it was a 3-point game, I tried to go for the 3 since I’d been hitting. If I am in that position again, I’ll take it to the basket.”
Mathews, Przemek Karnowski and Johnathan Williams all scored 13 points for Gonzaga. Nigel Williams-Goss had 10 points.
Carter scored 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field. He hit 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Daxter Miles Jr. had seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
WVU forced 16 turnovers. However, the Mountaineers turned the ball over 13 times.
After the Mountaineers called a timeout, Carter responded with a big 3 and then a minute later he converted a traditional three-point play to pull WVU within two points.
Miles’ finger-roll layup gave the Mountaineers a 52-49 advantage with 5:56 left to play.
With 4:28 remaining, Williams-Goss tied the game 52-all it with fadeaway jumper.
After Gonzaga regained the lead, Miles sank a 3-pointer, nodding the score at 55-55 with 2:26 left.
Following an inadvertent whistle, WVU got the ball back and Carter drained a 3 from the top of the key to put the Mountaineers up 58-55 with 1:47 to go.
But Miles missed both free throws and Mathews hit the 3-pointer to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.
“Their size bothers everybody around the rim,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “When you’re driving at the goal and you run into a 7-1, 300-and-whatever-he-is, it’s hard to score. And we just didn’t make shots that we normally make.”
The two teams combined for a total of 51 fouls.
“You really don’t get into a rhythm,” senior Nathan Adrian said. “But again, we’ve been dealing with it all year. We foul a lot – it’s just the way we play. But you can’t shoot 16 of 60.”
The Mountaineers shot 26.7 percent from the field, 21.7 percent from beyond the arc and made 21-of-29 from the free throw line.
“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,” Huggins said. “I think that says a lot about what kind of guys we have.”
Gonzaga shot 40.9 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and made 21-of-32 from the line.
The Bulldogs are making their third appearance in school history in the Elite 8.
Gonzaga will face the winner or the Xavier/ Arizona game on Saturday.
(Photo Credit: Dale Sparks- All-Pro Photography- WVUsports.com)