The Baylor Bears jumped out to a 9-0 lead against Gonzaga and never looked back. Gonzaga trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and cut the lead to 10 points heading into halftime. However, Gonzaga couldn’t slow Baylor down in the second half, and the Bears destroyed them on the glass. Between the turnovers, the poor 3-point shooting, and utter domination on the boards, Gonzaga flushed an undefeated season down the drain. Baylor executed a flawless game plan and beat Gonzaga 86-70 to win their first March Madness national championship.
Baylor, the top 3-point shooting team in the country knocked down 10 3-pointers, doubling Gonzaga’s output. Gonzaga struggled from deep on 5-for-17 shooting for 29.4%, compared to Baylor’s 43.4% clip.
Gonzaga, the #1 team in the country coming into March Madness, picked the worst time to play their worst game of the season. Baylor out-rebounded Gonzaga 38-22, and Gonzaga coughed up 14 turnovers.
Jared Butler led all scorers with 22 points. He knocked down four treys and dished seven assists. MaCaio Teague scored 19 points, and Davion Mitchell added 15 points and five assists in the win for Baylor.
Adam Flagler scored 13 points off the bench for Baylor. Overall, Baylor’s reserves outgunned Gonzaga’s bench 21-7.
Baylor opened at a +5 underdog against Gonzaga in the championship game.
Gonzaga failed to end a drought by Western teams. Arizona was the last team from the West to win March Madness back in 1997.
The confetti is falling for the Bears 🙌@BaylorMBB #NationalChampionship pic.twitter.com/Ptuibity57
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 6, 2021
Baylor Quick Surge, Zags Dazed and Confused
Baylor struck first blood and a dazed Gonzaga truly never recovered. It took nearly four minutes before Gonzaga, the second-highest scoring team in the country, scored their first basket of the game. Baylor didn’t back down and scored on 10 of their first 13 possessions to open up a double-digit lead.
“Our guys have been motivated all year,” said Baylor head coach Scott Drew. “We play with a culture of joy. They came out and fed off of each other.”
From the start, it was obvious that Baylor wanted the game more, especially on the offensive glass. Leading scorers Drew Timme and Corey Kispert were invisible in the first half of the first half. Jalen Suggs played a little too aggressively and was whistled for two quick fouls.
Gonzaga fell behind by 15 points, which marked their biggest deficit of the season. The downside of an undefeated season exemplified by the crushing of their opponents came back to bite Gonzaga in the butt. The near-perfect Zags didn’t experience playing from behind at all this season — until last night.
Baylor took advantage of numerous turnovers and extended their lead to 19 points. The Bears were accurate from beyond the arc, hitting 5-for-5 to start the game.
Timme finally woke up and Gonzaga finally got a run going after they slowed down Baylor with a zone defense. By halftime, the Zags chipped away and trimmed the lead to 10 points.
Teague and Butler combined for 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting for Baylor.
Baylor Slams the Door in Second Half
Gonzaga started the second half with a zone defense, but Baylor hit two quick 3-pointers to regain momentum. Fans were treated to a Suggs vs Butler showdown, with both players unleashing scoring spurts. Suggs scored six out of Gonzaga’s first eight points to start the second half, but no one else helped him out.
With 14:20 to go, Gonzaga cut the lead to under double digits. The Zags trailed 58-49, but failed to withstand Baylor’s counterattack. Baylor unleaded a 15-4 run and jumped out to a 20-point lead.
Gonzaga would get another chance to make a run. Suggs got hot, but it was a solo effort. Gonzaga held Baylor to zero field goals over a five-minute stretch, but failed to put a huge dent into their deficit. The Bears still led by 16 points with under four minutes to go. Mitchell put the game away with two layups and Baylor won 86-70.
Suggs finished with 22 points in a losing effort. Timme and Kispert, who averaged 38 points combined this season, tallied just 11 points each.
Baylor thwarted Gonzaga’s mission to win March Madness with an undefeated record. The 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers remain the last team to win a national championship and finish the season unbeaten.
Check out the latest OG List of March Madness champions and winners.