Phoenix, AZ (WLTX) - South Carolina historic and thrilling run in the NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday night, with a 77-73 loss to Gonzaga in the national semi-final game.

The Gamecocks rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to take the lead, but the Bulldogs were able to put enough plays together to cinch it.

The two teams spent most of the early going trading baskets, as each team proved why they got this far: a nice balance of precision defense and efficient offense.

The Bulldogs would start to take a little advantage, though, as they shot at a high percentage, converting nearly 58 percent of their field goals.

SEC Player of the Year and East Regional Most Outstanding Player Sindarius Thornwell struggled to find a rhythm. He did not score for the first 14:30 minutes of the game, when he got two free throws.

USC Coach Frank Martin admitted at halftime his star, who was suffering from an illness, didn't quite have the normal "bounce" in his game.

Gonzaga continued to build on their lead, until it ballooned up to 14 points.

But then the Gamecocks mounted a run, scoring 16 in a row at one point. But Gonzaga made enough plays down the stretch to close out the game.

The Gamecocks finish the season with 26 wins, an all-time record for the men's program.

PHOTOS: USC vs. Gonzaga