Gonzaga 2021 Final Four. survives UCLA39;s upset bid in overtime thriller to .
Gonzaga Gonzaga thriller survives overtime bid upset to Four: Final … UCLA's in
Sat, 03 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0700
Gonzaga will play Baylor, which beat Houston, for the NCAA title Monday after Jalen Suggs' three-pointer as time expired sealed overtime win, 93-90
INDIANAPOLIS — Trying to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, No.
11 seed underdog UCLA came out fearless and firing against national title favorite No.
The undefeated Zags took their biggest punch all season from their gritty opponent in an overtime thriller but Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs banked in a game-winning three-pointer as time expired for a 93-90 win.
The pre-game narrative never unfolded.
It took a buzzer-beater to escape the team counted out by the outside world.
The Bulldogs (31-0) got their biggest test of the season against UCLA, trailing in spurts throughout a back-and-forth game, but they dug deep and counter-punched with their dynamic offense – to ultimately stay perfect by staving off the determined Bruins.
A controversial charge call with one second left in regulation saw UCLA star Johnny Juzang – who finished with a game-high 29 points – drive to the basket and appeared to draw contact, only to see Gonzaga star Drew Timme draw a charge – which forced overtime.
Timme finished with 25 points.
Gonzaga advances to the national championship.
The Bulldogs will face No.
1 seed Baylor, which easily handled Houston, on Monday (9 p.m.
ET, CBS) in a highly anticipated matchup between two super teams.
OPINION: Baylor even more lethal when three-pointers are falling
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Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard’s three-pointer with less than a minute remaining in overtime appeared to seal the win before UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr.
drained a three-pointer with 50 seconds left and Juzang tied it at 90 to set up the epic last sequence.
Role player Joel Ayayi (22 points) was the fill-in star for Gonzaga in this one, while the Zags’ big three – Suggs, Timme and Corey Kispert – all made key plays to keep UCLA at bay – barely.
UCLA held the game’s momentum throughout much of the first half, but foul trouble plagued coach Mick Cronin’s team.
Jules Bernard picked up three fouls, while Tyger Campbell and Jaquez Jr.
each picked up two in the first half.
Then a five-point lead was quickly erased, as back-to-back three-pointers by Kispert and Suggs tied the score before Kispert’s jumper gave Gonzaga a 45-44 lead heading into halftime.
Kispert’s put-back with 56 seconds left in regulation put Gonzaga up 81-79 and his three-pointer with 4:25 left was a decisive bucket that gave the Zags a 75-74 edge – and a much-needed momentum swing to counter the Bruins’ late rally.
Suggs’ bullet bounce-pass to Timme with a little over a minute left gave Gonzaga a 79-77 lead – and another momentous surge.
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Juzang paced the never-say-die UCLA squad in the loss with big score after big score, while Jaquez and Campbell added 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Jaquez’s two free throws in the closing minutes tied it at 81.
Cheers of “UC-LA” echoed throughout Lucas Oil Stadium and it was evident that the team many expected to be rolled over wasn’t about to let that happen.
Cronin getting this team to the Final Four was a statement that the blue-blood program is back, and many of the stars from this NCAA Tournament will be back for 2021-22.
Before the game, Cronin said the best way for UCLA to pull off an upset was to come out scoring – which they did – and not turn the ball over.
Every game this season in which the Bruins have committed less than 10 turnovers, they’ve won.
Saturday they had 10.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
Sat, 03 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0700
The Zags will play Baylor for the N
men's tournament championship on Monday night
The Bulldogs will play Baylor for the N.C.A.A.
men’s tournament championship on Monday night.
INDIANAPOLIS — As Gonzaga made its way through this pandemic season, with its stops and starts and tenor of uncertainty, it eyed an opportunity to stamp the season with a different sort of historical marker — an unbeaten season.
Since the start, when they began the season as the top-ranked team in the country, the Zags rolled over every obstacle put in their path, a scintillating offense eviscerating every opponent and showing almost no signs of vulnerability during their nearly three-week stay here for the N.C.A.A.
Then late Saturday night, the Zags did what they hadn’t had to do all season — survive.
And they did so in spectacular fashion, with Jalen Suggs banking in a 40-footer at the buzzer to give Gonzaga a 93-90 overtime victory over U.C.L.A.
in a national semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Suggs’ shot, with two Bruins in front of him, came after Johnny Juzang had erased the last of a 5-point deficit in the final minute of the extra period by following his own miss, the last of his game-high 29 points.
Suggs took the inbound pass from Corey Kispert and after a couple dribbles launched his shot from just past midcourt.
As it went through, Suggs raced across the court from the Gonzaga bench, leapt atop a table and thrust his fists in the air as his teammates gave chase.
Meanwhile on the court, the Bruins stood in disbelief, hands on their heads or the hips.
As Gonzaga Coach Mark Few walked to midcourt to shake hands with Mick Cronin, his counterpart, all he could do was hold his arms out and shrug before the two embraced.
“I was just thinking, ‘please, please go in,’ I don’t want to go to another overtime,” Suggs said.
The shot is sure to be a defining moment in tournament history, the way Kris Jenkins’s championship winner was for Villanova in 2016 and the way Gordon Hayward’s could have been in 2010, when his halfcourt heave came within a kind bounce of giving Butler the title here in Indianapolis.
“It’s crazy,” Suggs said.
“Again, like I said, to actually live out that moment — oh, my gosh.
Right now, I’m tripping.
I still don’t believe it.
It’s not going to kick in until the morning.”
Perhaps then it will be time to look ahead.
Gonzaga, which is 31-0, advances to play Baylor on Monday night — a matchup between the two best teams in the country for most of the season and a redux of their scheduled matchup in Indianapolis in early December that was wiped out 90 minutes before tipoff because of positive coronavirus tests within the Bears’ traveling party.
The game will have a hard time being as riveting as the Bulldogs’ win over the 11th-seeded Bruins, who entered the game as two-touchdown underdogs, the biggest spread in a Final Four game in 25 years.
The Bulldogs will be attempting to become the first team since 1976 to win a championship with an undefeated season.
Two teams had reached the semifinals unbeaten since Indiana, but that’s where runs ended for Nevada-Las Vegas in 1991, when it was shocked by Duke, and Kentucky in 2015, when it went down to Wisconsin.
Gonzaga had looked just as formidable all season as those U.N.L.V.
and Kentucky teams, which were stocked with future pros.
The Zags had only one game closer than double digits — back in early December — and they had rolled into the Final Four with victories by 43, 16, 18 and 19 points.
Coach after coach who looked at Gonzaga’s film came away with a sobering assessment: they were the best passing team they’d ever seen in college basketball.
Center Drew Timme was lethal around the basket and if teams dared double team him, he was an able passer and soon the ball was buzzing around the perimeter until the desired result was achieved: a layup or an uncontested 3-pointer.
But the Zags nearly met their match in the Bruins, who with their rich basketball history and record 11 men’s national championships, were in the unaccustomed role of long shots.
entered the tournament on a four-game losing skid, and had to first get through a play-in game against Michigan State, which it beat in overtime to reach the round of 64.
The Bruins then upset second-seeded Alabama, again in overtime, and knocked off top-seeded Michigan with a late defensive stand.
They nearly pulled off their biggest shocker on Saturday night.
Cronin had three objectives: keep the pace controlled, minimize turnovers that would fuel Gonzaga’s fast break and play the same unyielding defense that had gotten them to this point.
They executed almost perfectly — and were urged on by a contingent of U.C.L.A fans that included two members of their last title team in 1995: Tyus Edney and Toby Bailey.
It made for tense, riveting theater almost from the opening tip-off — with 15 ties and 19 lead changes — and only got more dramatic as the night wore on.
“We might not have been the best team in the country all year, but we became one of the best four teams in the country, period,” Cronin said.
“This was not a fluke tonight.
We would not have gotten blown out Monday night.
We didn’t sneak in.”
If Suggs won the game with his long shot, he may have saved it with his defense, preventing U.C.L.A from taking the lead late in regulation when he swooped in to block U.C.L.A.
center Cody Riley’s shot at the rim inside the final minute.
The Bruins did have a chance to win it as their star, Juzang, who played the entire game, wound his way through the Gonzaga defense in the final seconds of regulation.
But he was whistled for charging into center Drew Timme when he landed in a heap among a trio of Zags under the basket with 1.1 seconds left.
“I would say this, it’s the hardest play in the world for an official,” Cronin said.
“And if I see the film and it looked like the guy was moving, then sometimes things aren’t meant to be.”
The call not only prevented Juzang, a 90-percent free-throw shooter, from going to the line; it kept Timme, who picked up his fourth foul with 4 minutes, 41 seconds left in regulation, in the game.
Timme, who finished with 25 points, scored Gonzaga’s first 6 points of the extra period to put the Bulldogs ahead, 87-83.
drew closer when Riley, after Tyger Campbell drew the defense, sank a baseline jumper, and it had a chance to tie on its next possession but Juzang missed a short transition floater with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining in overtime.
Andrew Nembhard seemed to put Gonzaga in control when he knocked in a 3-pointer less than 30 seconds later to put Gonzaga ahead by 90-85.
But the Bruins, as they have done all tournament, had an answer.
Coming out of a timeout, Jaquez, who had 19 points, knocked in a 3-pointer from the wing to draw the Bruins within 90-88 with 48 seconds left.
When Kispert missed a 3-pointer, the Bruins hustled into the frontcourt and put the ball in the hands of their best player, Juzang, who drove into the lane and missed a short jumper, but collected the rebound and put it back in.
The Zags’ undoing in years past has often been talented opponents with a physical, relentless defense.
On nights when their free-flowing offense couldn’t escape the muck, they have rarely had the type of defense that could win those types of games.
It is what undid Gonzaga in their last tournament appearance two years ago, when as a No.
1 seed they were upset by Texas Tech in the West regional final.
This year, Few insisted, was different.
The Zags, analytically at least, rated as among the nation’s best defenses and in Suggs, a freshman, they had what has for them been a rare player — an elite athlete with a football player’s mentality.
The problem against the Bruins is that there was only one of him.
was able to isolate Juzang on whoever was guarding him or let Cody Riley, the Bruins’ bulky left-handed center, draw Timme out of the paint and shoot jumpers over him.
They also picked on Kispert, who was a defensive millstone.
Yet, when it mattered most for Gonzaga, it wasn’t the defense that saved its season.
It was a prayer from the heavens.
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Twitter › ZagMBB
𝗪𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗚𝗨.
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UCLAs title hopes shattered in Final Four loss to Gonzaga in overtime www.latimes.com/sports/uc…
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SUGGS x TITANIC MUSIC 🔥 It had to be done. @ZagMBB #FinalFour
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