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Gonzaga Bulldogs Claim Victory in Nail Biter to Advance to NCAA Elite Eight

Emily Schwing
Northwest News Network
Hundreds of fans, students and spectators gathered in the Hemmingson Center on the campus of Gonzaga University to watch the Bulldogs take on West Virginia University's Mountaineers Thursday night.

The Gonzaga University men's basketball team will advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division One Tournament for only the third time in the program's history. Top-seeded Gonzaga beat No. 4 West Virginia 61-58 Thursday night in a tense, defensive Sweet 16 round battle.

Hundreds of students, fans, staff and faculty filled Gonzaga University’s student union to watch the Bulldogs face off against the Mountaineers in San Jose, California.

A long delay while referees reviewed video of a questionable call with less than two minutes left in the game had fans in a near frenzy. A mistaken whistle gave the ball back to West Virginia. Then with less than 40 seconds remaining, Gonzaga Senior Jordan Mathews hit a three point shot to take the lead for good.

“When I get down on myself they tell me to keep shooting it,” said Mathews of his teammates. “The shot came and I let it go.” He spoke to the NCAA’s March Madness Live commentators after the game, alongside Gonzaga Coach Mark Few.

Few said making the Elite Eight “means everything.”

“We’ve been focused on Phoenix forever, we desperately want to get there, now we are 40 minutes away," Few said. The Final Four games including the championship will take place in Phoenix.

Gonzaga next plays Xavier on Saturday. If the Bulldogs win they will earn their first appearance in the Final Four. They have 35 wins and one loss this season, the best best record of any college team this season. This was the Bulldogs’ ninth Sweet 16 appearance in an NCAA Tournament game.