The victor advances to the NCAA championship game on Monday, April 3, 2017, against the victor of the other Final 4 game between OR and North Carolina.
The season-ending loss was the end of a run the Gamecocks won't soon forget.
GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks defends Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.
SC and Gonzaga have a lot more in common than just being in their first Final Four.
Smith scored five of her 14 points in the last three minutes to draw Cardinal to within three points of the Gamecocks before Stanford's shooting escaped them with SC winning 62-53 at American Airlines Arena, Dallas.
Despite playing against the highly rated Gonzaga defense, SC suddenly found life, going on a 16-0 run in just three minutes to erase what looked like an increasingly hopeless double-digit deficit and instead put the Gamecocks ahead.
Top seeds Gonzaga advanced to the final of the United States national college basketball championship after downing SC 77-73 in Arizona on Saturday.
The lead was fleeting, though.
But Gonzaga responded with its own 7-0 run to turn the lights out on the Gamecocks' improbable run. PJ Dozier led all Gamecocks in scoring with 17 on the night.More news: Assad dismisses claims he ordered Idlib attack as 'fabrication'
SC had the ball exactly where it wanted it, in the hands of senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, with the game and its season on the line.
Gonzaga, which had to work hard in the second half to hold on for the win, held SC to 37.9 percent (25-of-66) shooting for the game. The two star bigs for Gonzaga, Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski, played great.
That it came down to Carolina winning on the boards was no big surprise.
John Higgins worked last weekend's game between North Carolina and Kentucky, which the Tar Heels won 75-73.
Standing at 7-1 and weighing in at 300 pounds, Karnowski is an absolute tank on the interior.
Gonzaga was fueled by Nigel Williams-Goss, who had 23 points and six assists.
Despite that second-half lapse, Gonzaga proved to be the team it looked like all season: more complete and more balanced, with more offensive options than the opponent.
"We feel like we're always going to be in the game", SC coach Dawn Staley said. They couldn't quite rack the code of the Zags' No. 1-rated defense as they shot just 25-for-66 from the field and 7-for-20 from the 3-point line. Maybe the Gamecocks women's team will do better Sunday in that tournament's title game.
"It was no secret that we were coming in here to do something as a collective unit", Williams-Goss said.