Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs banked in a last-second 3-pointer as time expired in overtime to give the Zags a 93-90 victory over UCLA in a great Final Four game on Saturday in Indianapolis. Until their matchup with the No. 11 seed Bruins, No. 1 seed Gonzaga had won all 30 of its games by double digits. The Bulldogs, however, had to pull out a close victory in order to maintain their undefeated season.
The Bruins were extremely competitive, and Gonzaga only managed to pull out a narrow victory. A layup by UCLA’s Johnny Juzang mere seconds before Suggs’ heroics knotted the score at 90.
The NCAA tournament’s top overall seed Bulldogs will play Baylor, the tournament’s second overall seed, for the national championship on Monday night.
When UCLA faced Michigan in the Elite Eight on Tuesday, Juzang scored 28 points to lead the Bruins to a 51-49 victory. On Wednesday, he scored 29 points to lead the Bruins to another victory. The 6-foot-6-inch sophomore was driving for a potential game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation when he was called for a charge.
The game went into overtime as a result of the call, and Gonzaga centre Drew Timme scored six points in the first two minutes to put his team ahead. For the game, he scored 25 points to help the Bulldogs to a 31-0 record.
Suggs is One-of-a-Kind
At the end of the game, Suggs hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that will forever be remembered. Gonzaga wasn’t Suggs’ first victim, and this wasn’t the first time Suggs had come to his aid. The highlight of regulation time was the standout freshman coming from behind to stop Cody Riley’s slam attempt in the final two minutes of play.
After gathering the loose ball, he fired a fantastic bounce pass in stride to Timme, who dunked. The four-point swing gave Gonzaga the lead it would need to avoid defeat in regulation, putting the Bulldogs ahead by two points.
Adorable Upon Losing
After beating Michigan State in overtime in the First Four, the Bruins went on a remarkable run that concluded with a heartbreaking loss to Texas Tech in the Final Four. Since their loss to Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament, four of the Bruins’ last seven games have required extra time.
It’s hard to imagine a team that has won 11 national titles becoming the heroic underdog, but these Bruins do. Particularly impressive was Juzang’s performance at the NCAA Tournament. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he became just the second player in UCLA’s illustrious history to score in triple figures three times in a single NCAA Tournament game.
The Past Is Still Accessible
An unbeaten national champion hasn’t been crowned since Indiana in 1976, and Saturday’s close win kept Gonzaga’s chances of making history alive. On the other hand, Saturday’s game may have shown that the Zags are vulnerable. The Bulldogs had cruised through their West Coast Conference and first four NCAA Tournament opponents without any problem, but UCLA proved to be a tougher test.
The Bruins’ success from midrange showed that not all of Gonzaga’s perimeter players are capable of shutting down their opponent in a one-on-one situation. Butler’s deep trio of guards may be able to attack the basket and get to good shooting positions if Juzang and UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. can break down the Bulldogs off the dribble.