LOS ANGELES: Jalen Suggs banked in a jaw-dropping buzzer beater in overtime as Gonzaga University kept their quest for an unbeaten NCAA championship season alive with a stunning 93-90 win over UCLA on Saturday. Suggs caught an inbounds pass deep in the Bulldogs end then raced up the court before pulling up and launching a desperation three pointer from near midcourt that hit the backboard and dropped in, sparking a wild celebration at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The 19-year-old Suggs celebrated by running across the court and jumping up with his jubilant teammates right behind him. “I have always wanted to run up on the table like Kobe and D-Wade. To be able to do that is crazy,” said Suggs. The victory advances Gonzaga to Monday’s NCAA championship game against Baylor University, who routed Houston University 78-59 in the other Final Four matchup earlier Saturday.
The Bulldogs are the first team since Indiana State in 1979 to take an undefeated record into the US college title game. Indiana was also the last undefeated champ in 1976. “I got in as many dribbles as I can to get as close as I could,” American Suggs said. “I put it up. It’s crazy. I don’t have the words right now. We are turning dreams into reality.”
Top ranked Gonzaga is 31-0 but Saturday’s thrilling nail biter ended their American college record of 27 consecutive wins by double figures. “This is the greatest team I have been a part of. We trust each other. When we get out here and play together we can achieve anything,” Suggs said.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said he had a hunch that freshman Suggs’ 30 footer was going in when it left his hands. “I knew when he shot it that it was going in. He has this magical touch around him. To do it on the biggest stage is just awesome,” said Few, who was named coach of the year on Friday. “We had to dig as deep as we have had to in quite a while. It was just a great college basketball game. I know we got a lucky half courter at the end.”
UCLA came within a whisker of the biggest upset in NCAA Final Four history, as it appeared for a while that their Cinderella run through the tournament was going to continue. Suggs’ winner came immediately after Bruins Johnny Juzang’s putback basket with 3.3 seconds left to tie the score at 90-90. “It was quite a chess match going on out there,” Few said. – AFP