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Baylor routs Gonzaga to win its first NCAA men’s basketball title and end Bulldogs’ dream of perfect season
- Updated: April 9, 2021
The Baylor Bears won their first men’s NCAA basketball title with a 86-70 win over the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs in the championship game Monday night in Indianapolis.
Baylor’s win snaps Gonzaga’s 35-game win streak, which was the longest active streak in the nation and dated back to last season.
“We’re really good defensively. I thought we made things tough tonight,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Gonzaga missed some shots that they probably normally make. But credit our guys for making everything difficult.”
Baylor (28-2) never trailed in this game — and this was a rout early.
“They were just so much more aggressive than us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They just literally busted us out of anything we could possible do on offense.”
Gonzaga (31-1) trailed by as many as 19 in the first half and the Bears led by 10 at the half. The Bulldogs briefly got within single digits in the second half, but Baylor pulled away, extending the lead at one point up to 20.
Jared Butler led the Bears with 22 points and seven assists while MaCio Teague added 19 points.
“I was struggling the whole tournament probably until the Final Four,” Butler said. “And as a shooter, it’s hard. Like, it just makes the days longer and you think about it all day long. But I knew … I couldn’t go the whole tournament and not shoot well.”
Jalen Suggs topped the scoring for the Bulldogs with 22 points. Drew Timme and Corey Kispert each had 12 points.
“They punched us in the mouth right at the get-go,” Kispert said. “And it took a long, long time for us to recover and start playing them even again. But then it was too late.”
Gonzaga was coming off a stunning last-second overtime win over UCLA. With a win over Baylor, they would have become the first team to finish a season undefeated since Indiana went 32-0 during the 1975-76 season.
Few said he never saw his team play as if they were weighted down by the pressure to go undefeated. Baylor made it hard for his team to generate any rhythm, he added.
“It’s been a fantastic season. These guys have just a great enthusiasm about them. Just such a positive spirit but yet such a competitive spirit. They’re such all great competitors,” Few said of his team.
Baylor was fresh off a dominating win over Houston in the Final Four. The Bears cruised through its tournament opponents, beating every team by at least nine points.
“Those guys didn’t want to lose for each other,” Drew said. “They wanted to play for each other. And they’re winners. They’re experienced. They’re tough. They love one another.”
This matchup had been two years in the making, at least. Gonzaga and Baylor were among the favorites to win last year’s tournament, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.