INDIANAPOLIS — The shot by Jalen Suggs – perfect!
The Gonzaga freshman banked in a shot at the buzzer from just inside the halfcourt logo Saturday night to lift the Zags to a 93-90 overtime win over UCLA and move them one win away from an undefeated season and a national title.
It was the best game of the tournament, and, considering the stakes, maybe the best finish in the history of March Madness – a banker from near midcourt to keep a perfect season alive.
After the shot went in, Suggs ran to the mostly empty press row, jumped up and pumped his fists a few times. The refs checked to make sure he got the shot off before the buzzer sounded. He did, and the Bulldogs moved onto Monday night’s final, where they’ll play Baylor for the title.
They are the first team to bring an undefeated record into the championship game since Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979.
Even without Suggs’ shot, it would’ve been hard to beat this game for pure excitement.
It featured 15 ties and 19 lead changes and an 11th-seeded UCLA team that simply wouldn’t give in. Even though they lost, the Bruins snapped a streak of 27 straight double-digit wins by Mark Few’s team.
The Bruins were the first team to lead Gonzaga in the second half in the tournament and, in fact, had a chance to win it at the end of regulation.
With the game tied at 81, Jules Bernard was taking it hard to the hoop in the final seconds, when Zags forward Drew Timme, playing with four fouls, stepped into the paint, planted his feet and took a charge.
Gonzaga tried a Grant Hill-to-Christian Laettner full-court pass with 0.7 seconds left to try to win in regulation. It didn’t connect. Five minutes later, Suggs may have very possibly knocked Laettner’s shot down a spot on the list of all-timers.