With history on the line, the Baylor Bears played the game of their lives. They wanted no part of the Gonzaga undefeated talk. They took the game to Gonzaga and the best three-point shooting team in the country hit everything they needed to hit to win their first title in school history, beating Gonzaga 86-70 in the National Championship.
Gonzaga could not possibly get off to a worse start. Baylor killed them on the offensive glass (9 OREB), hit every shot (7-12 3pt), and forced eight Zag turnovers early on. Baylor’s lead was 19 ten minutes into the game. Gonzaga actually shot the ball 55 percent in the first half, but had 16 fewer shots than Baylor.
Luckily, Gonzaga got to the foul line enough to cut the Bears’ lead to 10 at halftime. Four Zags’ starters had seven or more points at halftime. When they weren’t turning the ball over, they were getting their normal good looks.
Gonzaga started the second half by giving up an offensive rebound. When they had chances to cut the lead to single digits, they missed free throws and a layup. They just could not get over the hump and ever turn this back into a game. Baylor’s perimeter athleticism and length knocked Gonzaga off their feet for the first time all year and by the time they figured it out, the hole was way too big.
Jalen Suggs was great. He finished with 22 points and fought through foul trouble. But it was Baylor’s trio of guards who finished with 56 points. Jared Butler had 22 points, 7 assists and zero turnovers.
It’s a really crappy end to what was a historic season. It doesn’t diminish what this team accomplished. They just got beat by a Baylor team who played better on this night. They still search for that elusive National Title.
This article is hard to write and even harder to end. Because it’s not what any of us expected. It sucks a lot. Not necessarily because of the loss, but because they were never in the game. They finally had an off night and Baylor played phenomenal.
The incredible Gonzaga career of Corey Kispert is over. The one year of Jalen Suggs is over. Several others may be gone as well. They provided this program with historic moments and deserved a better fate. They provided fans with moments of joy during one of the toughest times in any of our lives.
November will roll around, fans will be back in the stands and a new group will try to win that elusive title next year. Speculation on the roster will begin almost immediately. But for the next few days, just appreciate what this team was and the joy they provided.