HOUSTON -- Growing up in Poland, Przemek Karnowski had to stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. to watch the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga's big man got to star in the show in prime time last night, contributing 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the second-seeded Bulldogs to a 74-62 win over 11th-seeded UCLA in a South Regional semifinal.
The victory puts Gonzaga (35-2) in the Elite Eight for the second time, its first regional final since 1999. The Bulldogs will play Duke tomorrow in the regional final after the Blue Devils' 63-57 win over Utah last night.
UCLA (22-14) opened the second half with a 6-0 run to get within 35-34, but Gonzaga scored the next 12 points, helped by the powerful inside game of the 7-1, 288-pound Karnowski, to make it 47-34.
"For me it was always a dream to be here and to play deep into the NCAA Tournament," he said. "And right now I'm here and I'm trying to enjoy every second of it."
Karnowski helped the Bulldogs grab six more offensive rebounds than UCLA, which Bruins coach Steve Alford thought was the key to the game.
"We didn't rebound the basketball," he said. "They got too many second shots."
Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer raved about Karnowski's work. "He was a beast down there, just gobbling up offensive boards," he said. "It's so easy for us, especially when we're on the perimeter, to just throw it down to him and he gets a bucket."
The Bruins, who lost in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, were done in by a tough shooting night that included long stretches without scoring. They were led by Norman Powell's 16 points.
It will be the first Elite Eight game for Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who took over in 1999-00. -- AP