Monday, April 5, 2021

FINAL 4 | UCLA takes #1 Gonzaga to the limit but loses in OT 93-90 on an unbelievable 30-ft bank shot by Jalen Suggs.


Game highlights

UCLA's Magical NCAA Run Ends in Final Four Thriller | INDIANAPOLIS – Johnny Juzang scored a team-leading 29 points as No. 11-seed UCLA lost to No. 1-seed Gonzaga, 93-90, on a buzzer-beater in overtime in the NCAA Tournament's Final Four on Saturday night.
Playing before a crowd of 8,131 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Bruins overcame a 90-85 deficit in the final minute of overtime. UCLA tied the game, 90-90 before Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs banked in a 3-point shot from just inside in the half-court line at the buzzer.
Juzang continued his remarkable postseason run with the Bruins (22-10), connecting on 12 of 18 shots from the field with a trio of 3-pointers. He also grabbed six rebounds.
UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. notched 19 points and rebounds. Cody Riley recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tyger Campbell had 17 points and a team-high seven assists.
Gonzaga's Drew Timme scored 25 points and Joel Ayayi had 22 points and six rebounds.
The Bruins closed the season with a 22-10 record after having played most of their games without any fans in the stands. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was operating at partial capacity for the Elite Eight and Final Four games.
"Trust me, as a coach, I appreciate fans," said Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family Men's Head Basketball Coach. "Even when they're mad at me, because I just appreciate the fact that they're a fan, because we lost our fans this year – in all sports. You really miss it. So my message to our fans is get your season tickets. Let's get this pandemic over with and pack Pauley Pavilion and make UCLA a yearly elite program. That's what I came to UCLA for."
Against Gonzaga on Saturday, the Bruins trailed 45-44 at halftime after a back-and-forth first half. In fact, the first half had 11 lead changes and five ties.
Gonzaga had an early edge against UCLA, but never by more than three points in the first half.
Trailing 11-10, UCLA scored seven of the next nine points over the following three minutes on a pair of free throws and a jumper from Campbell and a Juzang three-pointer to go ahead 17-13 with 11:38 left in the first half.
After Gonzaga reclaimed the lead, 25-24, with just under nine minutes left in the first half, UCLA made another run, netting 10 of 13 to go up by a half-best six at 34-28 with five minutes left. Juzang scored half of the points on a trey and a jumper, with Jules Bernard also sinking a three. The Bruins led by four at 41-37 with two minutes left before Gonzaga ended the half on an 8-3 run to take a 45-44 edge to intermission.
Juzang scored 15 of the Bruins' 44 points in the first half, as UCLA made 15-of-26 field goals (57.7 percent) and four from beyond the arc. Campbell chipped in nine and Jaquez Jr. added eight. The Bruins out-rebounded the Bulldogs 14-11.
Gonzaga's lead swelled to as much as seven at 66-59 with 11:21 remaining in regulation before the Bruins closed the gap. Four points in a row from Campbell and a Juzang jumper cut the deficit to one. Back-to-back buckets from Campbell and Riley would give the advantage back to the Bruins at 73-70 with 5:14 left.
Down 79-77 with two minutes remaining, a Juzang jumper tied things up. After Gonzaga re-took the lead, Jaquez Jr. was fouled with 43 seconds left and made both free throws to again even things. The Bulldogs missed a three with 17 seconds remaining, but the Bruins were called for an offensive foul on their final possession of regulation, as the National Semifinal went into overtime.
Gonzaga (31-0) got its overtime lead up to five with 75 seconds remaining, but three-pointer by Jaquez Jr. with 48 seconds to play and a layup from Juzang with just 3.3 seconds left tied the game, 90-90.

Gonzaga 93, UCLA 90
April 3, 2021
Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach
opening remarks
“First of all, congratulations to Gonzaga. Coach Few is a great guy. They've got a great team. Obviously, everybody's going to ask what I just told my team. So, I'll just tell you. I just told them they've got to let the last shot go. And as much as they want to be beat down right now and gutted and miserable, they've got to let it go because they're winners. They won.
As a coach, all you can do is ask your players to give you everything they've got. And I mean, come on guys, all you've got to do is watch. To see a team improve the way we've improved, to lose Chris Smith, Jalen Hill, to have injuries to Cody Riley, to Johnny Juzang, all the way to poor Jules Bernard throwing up all night, missing practice today, taking IVs to get himself on the court. And then to a half-court bank shot at the buzzer.
These guys, they deserved a better ending, but like I told them, as Coach Wooden would say, true greatness is giving your best effort. And that's what they did.”
on general thoughts on Gonzaga’s last possession
“I'm going to try -- I'm not sure your question, but I'm going to do my best. When Johnny got the put-back, I was running -- I didn't have a time-out to set our defense. We were out of timeouts. I was running at my guys to get their attention to trap the ball.
I got their attention late, and they came to him late. And it's not their fault because we trained them to get back, get back, get back, because Gonzaga is so fast. But I knew the clock was short. And I knew all he had was a desperation. I've lost on that before. Literally, if you look at the film, I was running to try to get him to come up so he couldn't dribble into that shot. Obviously, it was still a bank shot from half court.”
on how he decides how to get things together for next season
“That's the least of my worries, with all due respect, right now. Right now, I'm just trying to give them a talk about this season and how proud I am of them. And some of the players spoke in there. Cody spoke. Tyger spoke. Johnny spoke. It was an honor to be their coach. And I apologize, but next season is the last thing on my mind right now.”
on whether that’s the best college basketball game he’s ever been a part of   
“That's another tough one. I'd say no because we didn't win. But I'm sure for you guys, you guys, it was great to watch. Obviously, a great game. Showing my age a little bit, though, my friend. This is my 18th year as a head coach, 25 in college. So, we didn't win, so I can't give it that tag. But I know what you're saying. Obviously, it was a great game with big-time performances by a lot of players in this game. I thought it was a well-officiated game.
Obviously, I was hoping they would call a block at the end of the play, at the end of regulation, when Johnny broke to the basket. It might have been a charge. I haven't seen the film. I would say this, it's the hardest play in the world for an official. And if I see the film and it looked like the guy was moving, then sometimes things aren't meant to be. And I could tell you the official, if he did miss it, I'm sure he didn't mean to. But maybe it was a charge. I don't know. Great game. Great experience for us, and we're going to stay positive.”
on Tyger Campbell’s performance
“He was great. 17 points, seven assists, one turnover. Maybe a big key to the game was when we had the lead, had the game the way we wanted, and he goes out with his second foul with 8:23 in the first half. That didn't help us.
We were able to get to the half only down one. But maybe if he doesn't go out, we get the half, we get the half up five or six. But that being said, to answer your question, Tyger, he was awesome. And I'll add he took at least two charges that were called, at least two, I'm not sure -- he might have had more.”
on what the team’s performance in the NCAA Tournament does to define his direction for the program  
“Well, we've been doing that since last year. There was no tournament last year. But obviously it's all positive. I told the guys I hear all the stuff. People wanted the final they got. We might not have been the best team in the country all year, but we became one of the best four teams in the country, period. This was not a fluke tonight. We would not have gotten blown out Monday night. We didn't sneak in. You know how good Michigan and Alabama -- I guess hopefully it's all positive, especially to our Bruin faithful back home.
Trust me, as a coach, I appreciate fans. Even when they're mad at me, because I just appreciate the fact that they're a fan, because we lost our fans this year, you know, in all sports. You really miss it. So, my message to our fans is get your season tickets. Let's get this pandemic over with and pack Pauley Pavilion and make UCLA a yearly elite program. That's what I came to UCLA for. Fans were awesome towards the end of last year with our late games. And to them, keep their head up, and we'll just keep -- we're just getting started. So, this is my first tournament. So, we're just going to take a rest right now. These guys are all tired. Get back, see some sun back home.”
on Jaime Jaquez Jr.  
“Well, to your point, you used the term "Iron Man." That's a great term for him, because that's what he is. He gave us a fighting spirit that we needed last year. And that's why he was inserted into the lineup as a freshman. And the guys have gravitated, and there's guys on the team that he's the guy that he plays so hard every day. He's one of those guys that he rises everybody else's level of intensity -- he raises, I should have said.
In some games he scores a lot. Obviously, he's a very talented kid. So, he can shoot it. He can drive it. He continues to improve. But as you pointed out, he's such a good guy. Such a good person from a great family. But pointedly, within a team, players like him are so important. Character is so important. And we have other guys that have it. But your question's about him.
Obviously, he's got the heart of a lion. I'm honored to be his coach. So thank goodness he's with us, because obviously he's been a huge piece for me to rebuild this program, get it back to where we want to have it.”
on if Gonzaga’s performance and how difficult it will be to beat them in the championship game
“Here's what I would say: They do have really good players. Timme is a great offensive player. But they have to overcome some things. I don't want to sit here tell you my opinion point those out. But the reason I bring that up is that Mark is such a great coach that very few teams execute at their level, at their pace. They do a lot of changing of what they're doing, and it was such a chess match to coach against him.
We did it -- he's got me twice now in overtime. Maui in 2011 and now here in the Final Four. He's a great guy. I think he's just vastly, vastly underrated as a tactician because people say they've got all this talent. To pass the ball -- it's really hard to get guys to pass the ball to each other consistently and play as a team the way they do. So, their talent level is high. But their coaching elite as well.”
sophomore guard Johnny Juzang  
on the team’s huddle after Jalen Suggs’ shot went in
“Obviously Jalen makes an incredible shot. It didn't go our way. But immediately we come together and we didn't -- nobody -- we weren't going to let anybody have their heads down. Everybody is so proud to play with each other and to play for these coaches. And there's no other way we'd rather go out. We went out fighting. Just we went out. There's no better way. There's no regrets. Just everybody fought to the last play and the last shot is the last shot. But so grateful to call these guys teammates.”
on if there’s a moral victory in making it such a close game against Gonzaga
“No, we expect to win. Kudos to them. They're a very good team. But we're UCLA and the guys on this team, you know, there's no one I'd rather go to battle with. So, we expect to win. We don't look at the records or the rankings or the seedings. We are who we are, and every game we went out and left it out there and let the best man win, because it's us against them. And once you're on that court, none of that stuff matters. Not to this group. I couldn't say that.”
on putting the team’s accomplishments in perspective
“It was a phenomenal run. I think the best thing and what everybody just feels so good about is, I mean, we couldn't be any prouder. Like, there was no -- there was nothing that was going to stop us from fighting. I mean, literally to the last play and every single game to the last play, we were going to go out swinging. So, we battled and left everything we had out there. So, I mean, that just feels like such an accomplishment being able to say you have no regrets. It's not very common. You don't get a whole group where you can look at everybody and want to go to war with them. I mean, it's like where you trust everybody is going to literally do whatever it takes to win the game. That's just an accomplishment for everybody, every single person in this group, to put together and play with a group like that is such an accomplishment.”
on whether he had a sense for how extraordinary the game was when he walked off the floor
“Yeah, it's tough. I'm not going to lie. We feel like we could have done it all. But still, at the same time, I know I could say I did realize what an amazing group this was. And honestly, I mean, the Final Four and the actual -- like how deep into the tournament -- definitely like I recognize that as an accomplishment. But really what I realize walking off the court was just how incredible this group was and just the brotherhood and camaraderie and cohesion and just everything about this group, man, the heart. That's really it. The heart of this group, man. I was just so proud to have made this run with these guys. And also. I was happy that we were able to do this for everybody in the stands supporting us and everybody back home. That was really -- just this group, so much heart.”
on what the team’s performance this season says about the program moving forward
“Yeah, I mean, UCLA, we're not a Cinderella program. I think that those days are behind us. We're still in the legacy. So much history here, and I know that's what we're here to do and Coach Cronin is here to do.”
on the inspiration for the team’s chemistry throughout the NCAA Tournament
“That's a tough one. I just have to say the character of everyone in this program, the coaches and also the players. Just the character of, you know, knowing where we are in the season. We have the opportunity. It's March Madness. And we're not going to let this opportunity by. And we obviously ended the season a little roughly, but everybody had the maturity and fight in them to not let that affect us.
So, the level of focus and effort, I mean, again, just heart. Just the character of everybody. Nobody was going to let this opportunity pass, and we were going to, I mean, again, leave it on the floor every night and see where it takes us. But we weren't going to go out and not be swinging. The character is just incredible. Incredible group. I can't say it enough. Grateful for these coaches and to call these guys my teammates.”

The Box

Final Stats for 2020-21 season

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