Written by Lauren Roth
This year’s March Madness tournament was intense from the beginning, with a major upset when Ohio State, the second-ranked seed, lost in the first round. From that moment on, it seemed as though the theme for this year’s tournament would be to root for the underdog which carried through to the final game on Monday, April 6th between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Baylor Bears. Despite upsets from the beginning of the tournament, both Gonzaga was ranked first and they certainly held their own up until the final game when they fell to fellow first seed Baylor 86-70.
Aside from their final loss in the championship game, Gonzaga had a perfect season. They had the hopes and dreams that every team does to go all the way and get that sweet championship victory, but they fell short. Baylor came out onto the court aggressive and hungry, they never stopped and Gonzaga was never able to get into the rhythm that had guided them up until that point. From the tip-off to the last buzzer, the Bears had everything together. There was never a moment in the game in which Gonzaga took the lead. Baylor was aggressive and fast on defense, they had great blocks, and took advantage of turnovers. For the first half of the game, it seemed as though they never missed a three-pointer. Gonzaga was never able to find their footing, and by the last 15 minutes, you could tell they were losing hope.
Gonzaga’s disappointing effort was shocking to the sports world, even after their close game with UCLA. Jalen Suggs, a freshman who won Gonzaga’s last game with a halfcourt buzzer-beater, started this game and was expected to perform as well as he had been all season. Perhaps he was being cocky or got in his own head, but with two fouls and a missed three-point shot to start off the game, Suggs never seemed to find his footing. As the game continued, more fouls were called, starters were taken out, and the mojo was never found for Gonzaga. Baylor was able to capitalize on this thanks to their strong defense, which has been holding them for many games this season. Defensively, Baylor was able to keep all but two players under 50% shooting. They also had a great offense, led by Jared Butler, with 22 points and 7 assists, and Davion Mitchell, who had 15 points, five assists, and six rebounds. Baylor’s strong play on both ends of the court led them to a 20-point lead at the half. Though Gonzaga was doing their best to get the lead down to the single digits, they weren’t able to keep up with the Bears’ stellar play. Baylor bathed in the glory of their first NCAA Men’s Basketball title, an achievement any team would be proud of.