By Hocine LOUKKAF on 4/11/2021
While the Bears coasted during the first semi against Houston, the Bulldogs had to battle through OT as almost all starters played 40+min.
That was too much to handle as Baylor took no time to choke the jesuit institution, leading 11-1 after 4 min behind Mitchell’s 7pts. While Gonzaga managed to keep the margin stable (23-10 after 9min), Baylor kept pushing with another guard, Teague, adding 7pts to bring the score from 23-10 to 33-14 with 7min left in the first half. Freshman Suggs showed the way to his teammates with 7pts during these last 7min as Watson shortened the margin to 10 at the half with a buzzer lay up (47-37).
Few’s guys kept the hope alive as they trailed by 11 after 7min in that second half (62-51) but in only three short minutes, Baylor took advantage of too many misses by Gonzaga to take the lead to 20pts (73-53 with 10.40 left). Gonzaga would never have the opportunity to envision a come back as both teams went basket-for-basket until the end of the game, finally allowing Baylor to win its first men’s basketball championship.
As I predicted, the semi against UCLA got the Bulldogs so tired that they weren’t the dominant team we were able to watch all season long. Moreover, Coach Mark Few’s decision not to prepare big men Ballo and Zakharov to play more in case Timme would get injured (or too tired), above all in a very weak WCC conference, leaving Watson as the lone rotation inside, was lethal as Baylor outrebounded Gonzaga 38 to 22.
Baylor’s guards (Teague 19pts, Mitchell 15pts 5as, Flager 13pts) led the scoring with Butler (22pts 7as) getting MOP of the tournament. Do-it-all forward Vital led the big men’s gang with 11rbds. For Gonzaga, Suggs was the only living up to the moment with 22pts as neither Timme (12pts 5rbds), Kispert (12pts on 2/7 3pt) or Ayayi (8pts) could outperform their regular stats.
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