The Baylor Bears have done it.
The highly anticipated college basketball matchup many fans have been waiting for has finally concluded. No.1 Baylor defeated No. 1 Gonzaga 86-70 on Monday night, handing the Zags their first loss of the season. Baylor claims their first men’s basketball national championship in program history.
Baylor stepped up and dominated early in the first half, taking a double-digit lead in the first six minutes of the game. The Bears remained in control throughout the half without allowing a lead change.
Star guard Davion Mitchell, who has been a spark for the Bears all season, was on fire to start the game.
After the first nine minutes, the Zags had five turnovers and only three made field goals. The Zags found themselves in a pickle not long after and were down by 19 points only ten minutes in. After a few defensive adjustments from head coach Mark Few, Gonzaga began to find a rhythm late in the first half. They went on a 10-3 run, eventually cutting the lead down to ten going into the half.
Coming out of halftime the Bears did not slow down. Baylor was able to hold and maintain nearly a double-digit lead throughout the second half. Meanwhile, Gonzaga struggled from the three-point line and finished the game shooting 29.4% from the arc and were 5-17 from three. Meanwhile, Baylor shot 43.5% and was 10-23 from three.
In another impressive performance, Baylor defeated Gonzaga, 86-70. They had three guards score over 15 points, including junior Jared Butler, who dropped 22 points. Fellow teammate Davion Mitchell finished with 15 points, and Macio Teague finished with 19 points.
Butler, who was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, credits his teammates for rising to the occasion.
“[It was] electrifying, especially in that type of moment, a big game,” says Butler. “Everybody stepped up., everybody was clicking on all cylinders. That’s what it takes to win
As for Gonzaga, young standout Jalen Suggs was energetic and competitive as he tried to bring his team back. Suggs finished with 22 points shooting 53% from the field.
After the game, Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert reflected on his time as a Bulldog. Both Kispert, Suggs, and Timme are projected NBA lottery picks if they decide to declare for the NBA Draft.
“I’m grateful to my guys for sticking with it to the very end,” says Kispert, per 247 Sports. “A lot of days were not easy. But looking back— this has been by far the most special six months of my life. And I’m just so, so thankful that it turned out the way it did just from top to bottom. Had so much fun.”
After all the busted brackets and shocking upsets, college basketball fans now have their answer. With consistency throughout the entire tournament, the Baylor Bears were able to come out on top.