In the second game of the 2021 Final Four game, it was a clash of history. Undefeated Gonzaga was taking on UCLA, who came out the First Four and played their way into the 2021 Final Four. Gonzaga came in as heavy favorites being favored by 14 points. However, things were not gonna be so easy, as UCLA put a strong effort, in one of the best games recent March Madness history.
This first half was a barn burner. UCLA and Gonzaga traded baskets, going back Johnny Juzang lead the way for the Bruins with 15 points. UCLA played an up-tempo pace, hitting shots from all over the floor and moving the ball around. They were also able to frustrate Drew Timme, by smothering him whenever he got into the paint. Though the Zags had no problem scoring with Joel Ayayi scoring 16 points, going a perfect 6 of 6 from the field. Tyger Campbell was also a standout, running the Bruins offense almost perfectly. UCLA played a really strong first half, but the Zags were still able to keep pace. Both teams shot ridiculously from the field. The Bruins shot 57% from the field and 3, while the Zags were 61% from the field and 50% from 3. Corey Krispert finished the half strong for Gonzaga, hitting a huge shot to give them a one-point lead at the half, 45-44.
It was more of the same in the second half with both teams playing well, going back and forth, trading baskets, and playing outstanding basketball. Johnny Juzang continued to lead way for the Bruins hitting shot after shot, making every right play, and playing extremely well. Despite all of that, Gonzaga still held onto a slim lead throughout the second half. With 6:05 left to go, Tyger Campbell made a layup off a pump fake and gave the Bruins a one-point lead. Gonzaga had not scored in the last 3 minutes and then coming out of the timeout, turned the ball over. Neither team could take advantage of mistakes or scoring droughts. Johnny Juzang played an incredible game, hitting a huge 3 to give UCLA the lead with under 3 minutes to go. The teams continued to trade baskets. Jamie Jaquez went to the line with 43.1 seconds to go and tied the game. The Zags were unable to score, but Johnny Juzang was called for a charge down the other end of the court. With 1.1 seconds left, Gonzaga inbounded the ball which was intercepted by Juzang.
This game deserved overtime. Overtime started out with the Zags and Bruins trading baskets. However, the Zags were able to take a small four-point lead with 3 minutes to go. Cody Riley hit a mid-range jumper with 2 minutes to go, cutting the lead to two. Gonzaga took a time out with 1:32 left, with the score standing at 86-84, Gonzaga leading. Coming out of the timeout, Andrew Nembhard hit a jumper to push their lead to five with under a minute to go. UCLA came out and Juzang hit a huge 3. The Zags could not score on the other end of the and Juzang scored to tie the game. Jalen Suggs took the ball and from just a little beyond half-court heaved up a prayer and scored. Gonzaga won, 93-90.
In one of the best Final Four games in recent memory, these two teams played exceptional basketball and gave us a game that we deserved after a year of not having March Madness. This was a brilliant game with two excellent teams playing excellent basketball. This was a game to remember, with UCLA’s Johnny Juzang and Goznaga’s Jalen Suggs wowing us with their performances. Neither team deserved to lose this game and UCLA lost in an absolutely devastating fashion. The 2021 Final Four gave us one helluva game, that will live on forever. Gonzaga will face Baylor in the National Championship game on Monday at 9:20.