Against anyone Gonzaga faced in the Final Four, the Bulldogs were heavy favourites.
But the Bulldogs prevailed in a historic nail-biter to move on past UCLA.
Following a nail-biting finish to regulation, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs sealed overtime with a buzzer-beating prayer, lifting the Bulldogs to a 93-90 victory and a date with Baylor in Monday’s national championship game.
- 1 Gonzaga’s perfect season survives a thrilling finish.
- 2 Gonzaga Barely made it through the Regular Season
- 3 The National Championship Game will Include the Top two Ranked Teams.
- 4 The Bruins, who are Considered to be Underdogs, Present a Formidable Challenge for the Zags.
- 5 Timme and Ayayi sped Gonzaga to Victory.
- 6 In Crucial Moments, Suggs Always Delivers.
Gonzaga’s perfect season survives a thrilling finish.
Johnny Juzang of UCLA knotted the game with 3.3 seconds remaining on a putback of his own miss in heavy traffic, seemingly setting up a second overtime.
Suggs, though, received the inbounds pass, dribbled the ball past midcourt, and, seeing an opening way beyond the 3-point line, swished a shot from beyond Damian Lillard’s 3-point range.
Suggs seems to have already known it was good before the ball went off the backboard and into the net at the sound of the buzzer.
Gonzaga Barely made it through the Regular Season
The Bulldogs survived a red-hot shooting performance from UCLA and a dramatic finish in the waning seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime.
At the end of regulation, with the score knotted at 81, Juzang shook off a defender’s screen and drove to the hoop.
Drew Timme, who was already on the bench with four fouls, blocked Juzang’s shot and forced a foul, saving a national championship for Gonzaga.
The National Championship Game will Include the Top two Ranked Teams.
Gonzaga, who had won its previous 27 matches by double digits, almost avoided defeat. On December 2nd, Gonzaga faced its most serious test since a win over West Virginia by a score of 87-82.
But Gonzaga passed the test and will now face Baylor, who crushed Houston in the second national semifinal on Saturday. After a surprising run through the tournament, the best two teams in the country will face off for the national title.
The Bruins, who are Considered to be Underdogs, Present a Formidable Challenge for the Zags.
Despite Suggs and likely fellow lottery pick Corey Kispert going scoreless for the first 8:44 of the game, UCLA came out swinging, racing to a 17-13 lead.
The Bruins had a nearly perfect offensive first half, shooting 57.7 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from outside the arc while committing just five turnovers. However, they went into the locker room down as Kispert’s jumper with 0.4 seconds to capped an equally spectacular Gonzaga half and gave the Bulldogs a 45-44 lead.
UCLA, despite being a No. 11 seed, did not fold in the second half and kept fighting against the finest team in the country. For UCLA, Juzang was the driving force, capping off a scorching tournament with a 29-point performance that brought the Bruins dangerously close to pulling off another upset.
The Bulldogs, though, were not going to be denied their chance at history.
Timme and Ayayi sped Gonzaga to Victory.
While Suggs and Kispert had a rough start, UCLA’s early success was neutralised by Joel Ayayi. The junior guard started the scoring for Gonzaga and finished with 26 points and six rebounds.
Timme led the Bulldogs with 25 points and took the charge that ultimately saved their season as the Bruins hung close in the second half. Timme was Gonzaga’s most reliable weapon, hitting 11-of-15 from the field on a night when the Kispert struggled from 3-point range (2-of-8).
In Crucial Moments, Suggs Always Delivers.
Suggs, however, didn’t start scoring until there was 7:25 left in the first half since he was held scoreless before then. Plus, he contributed two plays to the annals of NCAA tournament history. If not for a miraculous comeback in the waning seconds of regulation, he might not have had a shot at his game-winning goal.
It was knotted at 77 when 6-9 UCLA forward Cody Riley went for a slam. This wasn’t going down well with Suggs, a 6-4 guard. When Riley attempted a dunk, Suggs was there to block it, grab the offensive rebound, and then find Timme for a fast-break layup with a precise bounce pass through the crowd.
A performance like that would guarantee Suggs a high draught pick in the NBA this summer.
While this may change in the future, Suggs is currently focused on immortality. The suddenly 31-0 Bulldogs are one win away from being the first college basketball team to go unbeaten from the start to the finish of the season since Indiana’s 1976 championship run.