UCLA's title hopes shattered in Final Four loss to Gonzaga in overtime

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) shoots over UCLA guard David Singleton (34) to win the game during overtime.
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs shoots over UCLA guard David Singleton just before the buzzer to lift the Bulldogs to a 93-90 win over UCLA in the Final Four on Saturday. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

No matter what the experts said, the metrics predicted, the casual or diehard fan believed, Mick Cronin felt assured of two things in the face of this challenge of a lifetime.

His team would show up. It would play to win.

UCLA had come too far, defied too many odds in surviving March to reach April, to give in now, no matter the probabilities or the season-long perfection of its nemesis.

So the Bruins fought, surged ahead early and responded to every challenge against a team expected to end its season in runaway fashion, pushing Gonzaga into overtime.

It was there that the Bulldogs were just a smidgen tougher, a smidgen better, a smidgen more fortunate in pulling out an epic 93-90 victory in a national seminal Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The ending was mayhem.

One moment, UCLA’s Johnny Juzang was going in for a putback of his own miss to tie the score with three seconds left.

The next, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs was rising for a 30-footer that he banked in at the buzzer before racing over to a courtside table and leaping onto it before raising his arms in celebration.

The Bruins could only place their hands on their heads and pull their jersey tops out of their pants in frustration at the end of their run to glory that looked like it might last two days longer.

UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. made a three-pointer to pull his team within 90-88, pumping his fist in celebration, before the Bruins got the ball back and Juzang followed his miss with a putback.

Gonzaga (31-0) survived its way into its first championship game since 2017, when the Bulldogs lost to North Carolina. They will go for the first title in school history Monday when they face top-seeded Baylor after the Bears routed Houston in the earlier semifinal.

After extending its winning streak to 35 games going back to last season, Gonzaga will attempt to complete the first undefeated season since Indiana was flawless in 1976.

More chaos had broken out in the final seconds of regulation when Juzang drove toward the basket, triggering contact and a whistle. Everybody looked at the officials. It was a charging foul with 1.1 seconds left.

Juzang got some redemption when he intercepted Suggs’ inbounds pass, sending the game into overtime and prompting Cronin to pump his fist.

Game recap

Gonzaga 90, UCLA 85 (:57.5 OT)

Drew Timme continues to dominate inside. Can UCLA respond here in the final minute?

Gonzaga 87, UCLA 83 (3:13 OT)

Drew Timme is taking over for Gonzaga. He scores the first three Bulldogs baskets in overtime to give Gonzaga a four-point lead. Mick Cronin calls a timeout.

UCLA 81, Gonzaga 81 (end of regulation)

Gonzaga's Drew Timme draws a charge on UCLA's Johnny Juzang with 1.1 seconds left. The game is going into overtime.

Gonzaga 79, UCLA 77 (:54 2nd)

Cody Riley misses a dunk and Gonzaga quickly streaks down court and scores a go-ahead basket on a dunk by Drew Timme. Then, Corey Kispert hits a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead again.

Gonzaga 75, UCLA 74 (3:54 2nd)

Corey Kispert makes a three-pointer to put Gonzaga back into the lead. If anyone manages to go on a run, it could be the difference, but both teams have been trading momentum throughout.

UCLA 71, Gonzaga 70 (6:04 2nd)

Tyger Campbell has been a clutch performer throughout the game for the Bruins, and he proved it again with a fancy layup that gives the Bruins the lead.

Campbell has 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting so far. Bruins on a 12-4 run.

Gonzaga 69, UCLA 67 (7:25 2nd)

Just when it looks like UCLA might not be able to hold on, the Bruins show their resiliency and stay right on the Bulldogs' heels.

A Johnny Juzang jumper followed by another big basket by Tyger Campbell has allowed UCLA to brush off the effects of a 6-0 run by Gonzaga.

Gonzaga 61, UCLA 57 (12:10 2nd)

Gonzaga trying to build some momentum, but UCLA is doing everything it can disrupt the Bulldogs' game flow and their efforts to pull away on the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs are finding a bit more success in the physical paint battles, with Drew Timme and Joel Ayayi scoring points inside to retake the lead. Ayayi is up to 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting for Gonzaga and Timme has 15 as he increasingly asserts his dominance inside.

Johnny Juzang has 15 points for UCLA.

UCLA 52, Gonzaga 52 (14:52 2nd)

The Bruins and the Bulldogs continue to match one another with a steady beat of incredible shooting and big plays.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. made a layup in the opening minutes to give UCLA a brief lead before the Bulldogs responded right back. Cody Riley also made a couple of clutch baskets to help keep the Bruins tied up with Gonzaga.

Gonzaga 45, UCLA 44 — halftime

UCLA guard Jaylen Clark fights for a rebound with Gonzaga forward Drew Timme.
UCLA guard Jaylen Clark, right, fights for a rebound with Gonzaga forward Drew Timme during the first half. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

UCLA runs into some problems in the closing minutes of the first half, unable to stop Gonzaga from successfully sniping from the perimeter despite shutting down the Bulldogs' lanes to the basket.

Corey Kispert's three-pointer in the final seconds of the half gave Gonzaga a one-point halftime advantage and marked the 11th lead change of the game.

Another three-pointer by Kispert a couple minutes earlier and a three by Jalen Suggs helped Gonzaga stay right on the Bruins' heels for most of the final stretch before it managed to grab the lead.

Gonzaga's streaking, fast-paced defense has had mixed success opening up passing lanes down low on the Bruins. Johnny Juzang has been the standout on the scoresheet for UCLA. Juzang has 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Tyger Campbell has nine points and Jaquez Jr. has eight points.

Joel Ayayi has a game-high 16 points for Gonzaga. Timme has eight and Kispert and Suggs each have seven points.

So far, UCLA is making this a last-possession game — that's remarkable considering how much of an underdog the Bruins were coming into this game. Of course, UCLA got here by defying the odds.

UCLA 38, Gonzaga 34 (2:46 1st)

Coming out of a Mick Cronin-called timeout, the Bruins immediately respond with a big dunk by Cody Riley. UCLA's game plan of slowing down Gonzaga and working to find the right shot is paying off so far.

UCLA 36, Gonzaga 34 (3:41 1st)

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs passes between UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, forward Cody Riley, and guard Tyger Campbell.
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) passes between UCLA guard Johnny Juzang (3), forward Cody Riley (2) and guard Tyger Campbell (10) during the first half. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Johnny Juzang is making tough, highlight-reel shots pretty much every time he has the ball. He made a replay-worth spinning layup and then followed with another jumper with a hand in his face.

Juzang is up to 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 shooting from three-point range. Tyger Campbell has nine points and Jaime Jaquez Jr. has eight.

UCLA managed to go on a 5-0 run, but Gonzaga jumped right back thanks, in part, to a costly turnover that led to a Drew Timme dunk.

Joel Ayayi has 15 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field for the Bulldogs. Timme is up to eight points, but UCLA has found success so far in stopping him from dominating under the basket. Gonzaga shot 61 percent (17-28) from the field. UCLA was at 58 percent (15-26).

UCLA 27, Gonzaga 26 (7:57 1st)

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang reacts after making a basket during the first half.
UCLA guard Johnny Juzang reacts after making a basket during the first half. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Tyger Campbell has been hot for UCLA. He already has nine points, but he's taking a temporary seat on the bench after picking up his second foul.

In addition to Campbell, Gonzaga's quickly learning it has to cover Johnny Juzang tightly. He's already hit a pair of three-pointers and is up to eight points.

Joel Ayayi has been the standout for Gonzaga. He's 5 for 5 from the field, with two three-pointers and 13 points.

Gonzaga's speed has been ferocious so far, but UCLA has been able to match the aggressiveness in spurts while slowing down the pace during possessions.

UCLA 19, Gonzaga 15 (10:55 1st)

Jaime Jaquez Jr. continues to a gutsy force around the basket for the Bruins. Driving quickly to the basket, Jaquez Jr. scores a layup and picks up a foul.

UCLA is off to a very strong start. The Bruins don't look like big underdogs at all.

UCLA 17, Gonzaga 13 (11:30 1st)

Fast and physical game so far. UCLA making the most of their chances and being methodical with its possessions.

A Johnny Juzang three-pointer gives them a four-point lead.

UCLA 10, Gonzaga 9 (14:38 1st)

A three-pointer by Jaime Jaquez Jr. gives the Bruins a one point lead going into the first commercial break. So far, UCLA is doing a purposeful job slowing down the game and making the pace more to their liking. Gonzaga hasn't been able to replicate the blistering pace it had early on in its Elite Eight win over USC.

Gonzaga's footwork under the basket tough for UCLA to contain — Joel Ayayi already has seven points for the Bulldogs. However, the Bruins aren't making things easy for the undefeated Bulldogs.

Pregame warmup

The 14-point spread favoring Gonzaga is among the biggest in Final Four history. UCLA became only the second First Four team to reach the Final Four after defeating Michigan State, Brigham Young, Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will be focused on his team's game against the Rockies, but he's still in UCLA's corner.

Want more live coverage? Check out the Dodgers vs. Rockies live blog

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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