Unbeaten Gonzaga ends UCLA's impressive NCAA in overtime thriller, 93-90
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA had an answer for every Gonzaga shot on Saturday night in the Final Four.

Until the last one.

Freshman Jalen Suggs banked in a 40-foot 3-pointer as time expired in overtime and unbeaten Gonzaga (31-0) advanced to the national championship game with a 93-90 victory over the Bruins (22-10).

Gonzaga will play Baylor (28-2) on Monday night.

UCLA was spectacular, led by 29 points from Johnny Juzang and clutch performances from most of its roster.

The Zags never trailed in overtime. Drew Timme, who scored 25 points, put in three quick baskets and Gonzaga led 87-83. Cody Riley, who played a terrific game for the Bruins, made a jumper to cut the margin go 87-85 with 2:06 left.

Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard made a 3-pointer with 1:13 left for a 90-85 lead. But Jaime Jaquez made one of his own for UCLA, making it a two-point game. The Bruins got one more chance and Juzang drove the lane, missed the shot but converted the putback with 3.3 seconds left.

Suggs, expected to be a top-3 NBA draft pick, dribbled quickly upcourt and released his shot 2 steps past the midcourt line. The banked in and Suggs ran to the sideline, jumping onto the scorer’s table to celebrating an astonishing finish to a splendid game.

No. 11 seed UCLA ended Gonzaga’s NCAA-record string of 27 consecutive double-digit wins and had its own unlikely dash through the tournament halted after a third overtime game.

The Bruins, playing in their first Final Four since 2008, also got 19 points from Jaquez, 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists by Cody Riley and 17 points from Tyger Campbell.

Joel Ayayi had 22 points from Gonzaga, which has won 35 straight games dating back to last year, and Suggs wound up with 16, one more than Corey Kispert.

The Bruins, down most of the second half, went up 71-70 by a stop-and-go layup by Tiger Campbell with 6:06 left. Gonzaga had three key players — Timme, Suggs and Ayayi — each nursing three fouls, so things looked good for UCLA.

Timme then picked up his fourth at 4:41 but Kispert delivered a 3-pointer for a 75-74 Gonzaga lead with 4:28 to play.

The lead flipped back to the Bruins when freshman Jalen Suggs went to double Cody Riley, who found wide-open Juzang for a 3-pointer. He made it and UCLA led 77-75 with 2:57 left. Suggs tied it moments later then made a spectacular defensive play, blocking a dunk try by Riley before feeding Timme for a transition dunk.

Juzang answered with another basket and the game was tied at 79-all with 1:27 left. Kispert put the Zags back in front with a putback shot at 58 seconds before Jaime Jaquez converted two free throws with 43.1 seconds left to tie it at 81-all.

The game went to OT when Timme — with four fouls — stood his ground in the lane and drew a charge from Juzang on a drive with 1 second leeft.

The Bruins saw Jules Bernard go to the bench with his fourth foul just 11 seconds into the second half, and Gonzaga took back the lead and held it for all but about 20 seconds deep into the period.

The Zags twice led by seven points, the last time on a shot from the post by Timme for a 66-59 lead with 11:18 left.

But UCLA used a 6-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Campbell and climbed back within 66-65 inside 9 minutes to play.

Despite the fact that Gonzaga led 45-44 at the break, the Bruins kept the pace mostly were they wanted it in the first half. They stretched possessions and generally got good looks at the end of the shot clock.

UCLA led for more than 13 minutes of the half, and by as many as six points. Gonzaga held the lead for just under 6 minutes and never was up by more than three points.

Over the first four games of the NCAA tournament, Gonzaga had trailed for barely 10 minutes of 160.

The Zags used back-to-back 3-pointers from Suggs and Kispert in the final 2 minutes to cut into UCLA’s lead and a mid-range jumper by Kispert with 3 seconds left put Gonzaga up by one at intermission.

UCLA needed a sharp offensive performance to stay with the Zags and made 58 percent of its first-half shots (15 for 26), led by Juzang, who scored 15 points on 6-for-8 accuracy.

Campbell and Jaquez had nine and eight points, respectively, for the Bruins, although Campbell was limited to 10 minutes after picking up his second personal foul.

Gonzaga, which leads the nation in scoring, field-goal percentage and 2-point field-goal percentage, followed its usual script. The Zags shot 61 percent (17 for 28), scored 24 points in the paint and had assists on 13 of 17 baskets.

Joel Ayayi, an all-around standout for the Zags but just their No. 4 scorer, had 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the first half. UCLA turned the ball over just five times in the period but Gonzaga showed its open-court efficiency by turning those takeaways into nine points.

This article first appeared on FanNation Cal Sports Report and was syndicated with permission.

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