Zags top UCLA in OT thriller to get to championship game

Zags top UCLA in OT thriller to get to championship game

 

 

Suggs sprinted up the right side of the court at Lucas Oil Stadium, planted and lofted a 3-pointer from about 30 feet out as time expired.

Banked it in. No doubt he got the shot off in time either.

Suggs sprinted to a table on the other side of the court and hopped up on it like he’d seen his favorite NBA greats do.

Suggs’ make capped one of the all-time great Final Four games and lifted No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga over No. 11 seed UCLA, 93-90, in the second semifinal game April 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Stuff like this is something you dream up as a kid and you practice on a mini hoop,” Suggs said. “But it was a great shot. Crazy shot. It was special.”

The Bulldogs will play No. 1 seed Baylor in the title game after the Bears blew past No. 2 seed Houston in the first semifinal game.

Gonzaga (31-0) needed every bit of its star power to get past UCLA (22-10), a pesky, grind-it-out team that was ranked 44th out of 68 NCAA Tournament teams.

The Bruins went shot for shot with Gonzaga, which features one of the game’s most efficient offensive attacks, and led by as many as six late in the first half. They led for about 15-and-a-half minutes in a game that featured 19 lead changes.

UCLA’s brand of basketball was slower than most this season and sometimes led to unflattering wins and losses. This wasn’t one of those games The Bruins’ 90 points against Gonzaga were their most since scoring 91 in a win over Washington State in mid-January.

That mark also represents the most points scored by a losing team in Final Four history.

UCLA’s outburst was in large part thanks to sophomore guard Johnny Juzang, who scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Juzang’s last two points came when he rebounded his own miss and scored with 3 seconds left to tie the game.

“We don’t look at the records or the rankings or the seedings,” Juzang said of UCLA’s tournament run, which started in the First Four and included three overtime games. “We are who we are, and every game we went out and left it out there and let the best man win, because it’s us against them. And once you’re on that court, none of that stuff matters.”

The Bruins shot 57.1% from the field and made eight of their 17 looks from behind the arc.

There’s never been doubt about Gonzaga’s ability to score. The Bulldogs got 16 points from Suggs to go along with 25 from sophomore forward Drew Timme and 22 from redshirt junior guard Joel Ayayi.

The Zags shot 71.4% from the floor, tied for the second best field goal percentage in a Final Four game. The Bulldogs were especially good inside, making 22 of 28 layups.

The question for head coach Mark Few and his team: Can they slow down Baylor in the championship game? The Bears put Houston’s top defense in a grinder for 40 minutes before Gonzaga took the court and gave up 90 to a team that doesn’t feature what many would consider to be a prolific offense.

“We had some defensive lapses where we weren’t thinking very well,” Few said.

He and his staff have less than 48 hours to work on those lapses because one program — whether it’s Gonzaga or Baylor — will leave Indianapolis with its first national championship. If it’s Gonzaga, the Bulldogs will have the first perfect season since the Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 in 1976.

At the end of his postgame press conference, Few caught himself talking about how far Gonzaga has come over his 22 seasons at Gonzaga. He stopped.

“But unfortunately, no time for that right now,” he said. “We’ve got to get ready for a terrific Baylor team. And we’re going to have to play great.”

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 03: The Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate after their last-second, overtime win against the UCLA Bruins in the Final Four semifinal game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 03, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Trevor Brown Jr/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder

Zags top UCLA in OT thriller to get to championship game

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