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The Latest: Gonzaga leads Xavier 49-39 at halftime

March 25, 2017

The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

7:10 p.m.

Xavier’s J.P. Macura gave the crowd at the West Regional final a collective gasp when his shot from three-quarters court banked in at the end of the first half of the Musketeers’ game against Gonzaga.

Macura ran off the court in celebration but a replay review determined the shot got off just after the buzzer and the officials waved it off. That sent Gonzaga into the half with a 49-39 lead.

The Bulldogs did most of their damage from deep by hitting eight 3-pointers and adding three more points when Jordan Mathews was fouled on a 3. Josh Perkins hit three from long range, Nigel Williams-Goss had two 3-pointers and three other players hit one.

Williams-Goss leads Gonzaga with 13 points and Johnathan Williams has 12.

Xavier fell behind with a 1-for-9 shooting stretch late in the half against Gonzaga’s tough defense. Trevon Bluiett leads the way with 10 points.— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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7:05 p.m.

Members of the U.S. soccer team came onto the court at halftime of the West Regional final to be recognized, a day after their 6-0 win over Honduras in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey, who scored his second career hat trick, waved to fans along with Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, DaMarcus Beasley and a handful of other players, some in shorts, some in sweats.

The U.S. team was scheduled to fly to Panama late Saturday night for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Panama City.

— Ronald Blum, reporting from San Jose, California

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6:47 p.m.

Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski has taken just one shot but is still making a big impact at the offensive end.

With Xavier sending a second and sometimes third defender at Karnowski almost every time he catches the ball in the post, the Bulldogs have gotten plenty of open looks from 3-point range.

Gonzaga has shot 6 of 11 on 3-pointers so far in the first half to take a 35-29 lead. Two of those 3-pointers came directly off passes from Karnowski.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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6:40 p.m.

It’s been a rough weekend so far for Gonzaga star guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

The West Coast Conference player of the year has made just 2 of 7 shots with no assists to start the West Regional final against Xavier. Williams-Goss shot 2 for 10 with five turnovers in the Sweet 16 win over West Virginia.

The Bulldogs have survived the struggles and lead 27-23, thanks a boost from two 3-pointers by Josh Perkins and another from Silas Melson.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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6:30 p.m.

Xavier is doing something no one has done all season against Gonzaga: run an efficient offense.

The Musketeers have made 8 of their first 16 shots with only one turnover early in the Elite Eight matchup against the top-seeded Bulldogs. Gonzaga still leads 22-19.

No opponent made half its shots in a game against Gonzaga all season, with San Francisco posting the top mark of 46.9 percent.

In the first three games of the tournament, Gonzaga allowed opponents to shoot just 33.2 percent.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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6:20 p.m.

Gonzaga is relying on the outside shot to start the West Regional final against Xavier.

The top-seeded Bulldogs have taken seven of their first eight shots from behind the 3-point line in the opening minutes. They made three of them, including two by Josh Perkins, to take an early 12-10 lead over the Musketeers.

Gonzaga made just four 3-pointers all game in the Sweet 16 win over West Virginia. The Bulldogs were shooting just 29 percent from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament before today.

Xavier has done all its work closer to the basket, with all seven shots coming inside the arc and five of them at the rim.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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6:10 p.m.

With fan favorite Arizona eliminated in the Sweet 16, there are plenty of empty seats at tip off for the West Regional final between top-seeded Gonzaga and No. 11 seed Xavier.

The Wildcats had the biggest contingent on hand Thursday night but lost 73-71 to the Musketeers, leading to the big blocks of empty seats in the top level of SAP Center.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California

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4:40 p.m.

Either Xavier or Gonzaga is about to earn its first Final Four berth in school history.

Gonzaga and Xavier are both making their third appearances in regional finals Saturday, but neither school has ever advanced beyond that stage. They face off Saturday in the West Regional in San Jose, California.

Oregon is meanwhile seeking its first Final Four appearance since its 1939 national championship. Oregon faces Kansas in the Midwest Regional championship at Kansas City, Missouri.

In each of its previous two regional final appearances, Gonzaga lost to the eventual national champion (Connecticut in 1999, Duke in 2015). Xavier lost to Duke in a 2004 regional final and fell to UCLA in a 2008 regional championship.

Oregon lost to Oklahoma in a regional final last year.

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