SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As the clock wound down to secure an elusive trip to the Final Four, Gonzaga coach Mark Few hugged star guard Nigel Williams-Goss as he left the floor. Then he allowed himself a good cry.
"Tears of joy," Few said. "It makes your heart warm, 365 degrees Celsius ... maybe it's Fahrenheit. It's been awhile since I was in class."
Former Cinderella-turned-powerhouse Gonzaga powered its way into its first Final Four with decisive 83-59 victory over Xavier in the NCAA West Regional final on Saturday at the SAP Center.
Williams-Goss scored 23 points and forward Johnathan Williams had 19 points and won the tournament MVP award. The Bulldogs bombed their way past the Musketeers by making 12 of 24 3-pointers to shoot holes in Xavier's zone defense.
Top-seeded Gonzaga (36-1) will play the winner of Sunday's Florida-South Carolina game in one NCAA semifinal in the Phoenix suburbs on Saturday. Gonzaga, which won its first 29 games, has a six-game winning streak.
"We had a plan for ourselves," said Williams-Goss, a junior transfer in his first seasin in the program.
"We believed from day one when we all set foot on this campus that we could go to Phoenix. We didn't shy away from setting that goal. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we knew if we bought into the system that we could do it."
For Gonzaga, the 19th time was the charm. The Bulldogs' 19th straight NCAA appearance induced their third Elite Eight, and they finally jumped the last hurdle by dominating both sides of the ball against the game Musketeers (24-14).
Williams-Goss made four 3-pointers and guard Josh Perkins had three. Williams-Goss contributed eight eight rebounds and four assists, Perkins and Jordan Mathews had 11 points each, and Williams had eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs set a school record for victories with their 30th double-digit win of the season. They have 28 NCAA Tournament wins, one more than Xavier.
"I've been there 28 years," said Few, who has been head coach for the last 18 years after serving as an assistant. "My first year on our staff we won four Division I games.
"And I mean, this wasn't even possible. And each year we got better and better, and they we got really good. Our culture is so strong. This was a culture win and a culture statement."
Guard J.P. Macura led 11th-seeded Xavier with 18 points.
The Musketeers shot only 35.5 percent from the field, including 26.7 in the second half, and could not make a dent in Gonzaga's 10-point halftime lead.
"They were the better team," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "Had we played our best, they still would have been a tough out. They are really, really good. They play disciplined on defense."
Gonzaga has limited its four NCAA Tournament opponents to 33.7 percent shooting from the floor. It held teams to 36.5 percent during the regular season.
Musketeers leading scorer guard Trevon Bluiett had 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting while being primarily covered by Williams and Williams-Goss when the Bulldogs were in a man-to-man defense. They also played some zone.
Bluiett had 75 points in the first three NCAA games, including 25 in a 73-71 victory over Arizona on Thursday.
"Our defense has gotten us this far all year," Few said. "It basically won us all four games in the tournament."
Gonzaga hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the second half to stretch its lead to 17, and it reached 20 at 69-49 two possessions after Mack was called for a technical foul with 10:51 left. Xavier never challenged thereafter.
NOTES: Gonzaga and Xavier are two of the eight schools that have played in at least 11 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments. Gonzaga has played in 19 straight. ... Gonzaga F Adam Morrison scored 35 points in the teams' only other meeting in the NCAA Tournament, a 79-75 Gonzaga victory in a 2006 West Regional first-round game in Salt Lake City. Gonzaga was seeded third, Xavier 14th. ... Gonzaga and Xavier are two of 28 Jesuit schools competing at the top level of the NCAA. Gonzaga has an enrollment of 7,837. Xavier's is 6,522. ... Gonzaga, North Carolina and Wisconsin are the only three programs to appear in the Elite Eight each of the last three years.