What a surprise we have seen in the Finals of East Regional of the NCAA tournament, as the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators, 77-70, and advanced to the Final Four of March Madness.
For the first time in their history, the Gamecocks are among the top 4 universities at the end of the NCAA basketball tournament. They have surprised Florida Gators at the temple of basketball, Madison Square Garden.
“Gamecock Nation, we heard you loud and clear,” coach Frank Martin roared as the team prepared to cut down the nets. “We’ll see you in Phoenix.”
And in the same style, the Gamecocks played. Roaring on both sides of the court, and especially on defense.
Sindarius Thornwell was the man of the hour — not only because he scored 26 points — but because he scored when they needed it the most.
The game was so intense and exciting that until the last minute, we didn’t know who was going to win.
At first, he scored two free throws, after that he made a steal that ended with a 73-68 lead for the South Carolina team.
“I just made plays,” Thornwell said. “Plays needed to be made down the stretch and I stepped up and made plays.”
At halftime, the Gamecocks were trailing seven points, 40-33. During the first half, the Gators were firing long distance artillery, as they scored 7 of 12 three-point attempts. But in the second period, from 14 shots, they managed to score… none!
Just to remind you, in their first meeting this season, they were shooting 0 for 17 behind the three-point line.
The game itself, as we previously said, was extremely interesting. 14 lead changes and 10 ties speak for themselves.
But the Gamecocks tightened up their defense in the last couple of minutes, and Florida scored just three field goals in the last 4 minutes of the game.
South Carolina played fantastic defense, and they forced the Gators to lose the ball 16 times.
Along with the fantastic Thornwell, PJ Dozier scored 17 points and Chris Silva 13.
Among the losers, Justin Leon had 18.
After beating No. 2 seeded Duke, and No. 3 seeded Baylor, the Gamecocks defeated this No. 4 seed, and this is the best result in their history.
Since 1973 they had not one win in a NCAA tournament, and now they reached the Final Four.
After this game, the Gamecocks are going for another surprise and for another miracle. They are facing No. 1 from the West Regional, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The game will take place in Glendale, Arizona this Saturday. They are complete underdogs, but if they managed to reach the Final Four — then anything is possible.
Stay tuned, and prepare for Saturday, because the Cinderella team is facing probably the best team this season.