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Baylor Steamrolls Gonzaga to Win the Program’s First National Championship

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — This year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship was one of the most anticipated matchups of all time. Throughout the season, Gonzaga and Baylor separated themselves as the championship contenders. More than most title games, the final game had more anticipation than normal for multiple reasons. These two teams were scheduled to face off on December 5, but positive COVID-19 tests caused a cancelation. Also, a win would make Gonzaga the first undefeated National Champions since 1976 when Indiana went 32-0.

From the jump, the game was all Baylor; they scored the first 9 points, eventually claiming a 23-8 lead just eight minutes into the game. Gonzaga would cut the lead to single-digits in the 2nd half but never could slow down Baylor long enough to surmount the lead. In the end, Baylor ran away with the game, 86-70, to win the first National Championship in program history.

Baylor, Gonzaga
Adam Flagler #10 of the Baylor Bears poses with the trophy after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana | Jamie Schwaberow | NCAA | Getty Images

Throughout the game, Baylor not only scored in bunches but did all the little things right. Their first score came on a possession extended twice by back-to-back offensive rebounds by Mark Vital. He was a beast on the glass, grabbing 8 of his 11 rebounds on the offensive side. As a result, Baylor outrebounded Gonzaga by a wide margin, 38 to 22. Their shooters were on fire, providing great percentages from the field (45%), the three-point line (44%), and the free-throw line (89%).

Scoring wise, the star-trio of guards for Baylor were the leaders. Continuing a dominant run, Jared Butler led the team in scoring with 22 points on 4 of 9 shooting from deep. MaCio Teague added 19 points while Davion Mitchell added 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Also, Adam Flagler knocked down 3 long-range jumpers in his 13-point performance off the bench.

Gonzaga Falls Just Short of a Perfect Season

Baylor, Gonzaga
Drew Timme #2 and Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs react to a play against the Baylor Bears in the first half of the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana | Jamie Schwaberow | NCAA Photos | Getty Images)

Gonzaga ends their season with just 1 loss but still comes up empty in the championship with the loss. This is their 2nd runner-up finish in program history; their last came in 2017 when they fell to North Carolina. 

For Gonzaga, their stars tried to pull their team back into the game. The final Four matchup hero, Jalen Suggs, led the team with 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting. Corey Kispert and Drew Timme both contributed 12 points apiece, but both had struggles. Kispert shot just 5 of 12 from the field, while Timme dealt with foul trouble and turnovers. He committed 4 fouls while turning the ball over 5 times.

Overall, their shooting performance just could not combat the Baylor scoring effort. Gonzaga shot just 29% from the three-point range, which hindered any comeback effort they tried to put forward. Head coach Mark Few gave all the credit to Coach Drew and Baylor. 

“It’s a really, really tough one to end a storybook season on. But, listen, Baylor just beat us. They beat us in every facet of the game tonight and deserve all the credit,” said Few.

Coach Scott Drew Completes a Remarkable Turnaround

Baylor, Gonzaga
Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears celebrates after cutting down the nets after a win against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana | Brett Wilhelm | NCAA Photos | Getty Images

When head coach Scott Drew took the Baylor job, it may have been the least sought-after job in college basketball. Before he took over, Baylor had only made the NCAA Tournament once since 1950. Since their runner-up finish in 1948, only two Baylor head coaches left the program with a record better than .500. Still, he knew he had what it took to take Baylor to the mountain top. 

In his 18 years at Baylor, he has completely turned around the program. Under Coach Drew, Baylor has posted a .624 overall winning percentage, reached three Elite Eights, and now are National Champions.

With that in mind, many recalled coach Drew’s introductory press conference. He lacked no confidence with all the work ahead of him, claiming Baylor would win a title under his reign. On Monday night, he was reminded of that press conference and was elated to make good on his prediction.

“God has blessed us with unbelievable players. The people that have come for 18 years and put in the work. Our fans that have been with us for the lean years, the good years,” said Coach Drew. 

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