Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Strawther’s shot

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer from UCLA’s Amari Bailey, leading Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 NCAA tournament win over UCLA.

LAS VEGAS — LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gonzaga and UCLA played an NCAA tournament game that left the Zags’ star player roaring and another game that stunned the Bruins.

Add another to the list. Maybe the craziest March so far.

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer from UCLA’s Amari Bailey and propelled Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 win over UCLA in Thursday night’s Sweet 16.

“You can’t redeem moments like that,” said Strawther, who is from Las Vegas. “These are literally the moments you dream about. Getting that shot on March Madness and just being back home in Vegas is like icing on the cake.”

The West Region No. 2 Bruins (31-6) stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 to take a 76-75 lead over Baileys 3-pointers by 12.2 seconds.

The Zags (31-5) grounded the ball and Strawther kicked into a 3-pointer after a drop pass from Hunter Sallis, sending the Gonzaga fans to their feet.

“Once it was taken down, it looked like it was online,” Strawther said.

The Zags still had to sweat.

Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther hit just one of two free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.

Campbell’s 3-pointer on the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags off the bench into the Elite Eight against UConn on Saturday while the Bruins were once again left disappointed.

“Try not to get too high or too low in every game,” said UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds. “He hit a big shot and we lost.”

Strawther’s shot was reminiscent of the shot Villanova’s Kris Jenkins took with a drop pass to win the 2016 national championship — a shot that came after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige fired a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left had balanced.

There’s a reason it sounded familiar.

“That’s Jay Wright’s style of play that he used in Villanova-Carolina, the championship,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “That’s what we call it. He does it all the time.”

It’s also the latest chapter in what is now college basketball’s best West Coast rivalry.

UCLA prevailed in the teams’ first go-around of the NCAA tournament and rallied 17 points down to send the Zags out of the 2006 bracket and bring down star Adam Morrison in tears.

Jalen Suggs crushed the Bruins last time out, hitting a running 3-pointer on the buzzer to send the Zags to the 2021 national championship game.

“I can’t even describe what he did. It’s crazy,” Gonzaga’s Drew Timme said of Strawther’s winner. “It’s just like how Jalen shot, man.”

Timme had 36 points for his 10th 20-point NCAA tournament game.

The ordeal of crossing the finish line began more like a prize fight, with each team taking turns landing shots in a game of wild swings.

UCLA led by 13 at halftime but went into an 11-minute field-goal drought when Gonzaga went up 10 with 2:40 to go. The Bruins took their rally corner and retook the lead but left Gonzaga with too much time on the clock.

“We should have been closer to Strawther,” said UCLA coach Mick Cronin. “We were the whole game. We just weren’t in that piece. If we were closer he wouldn’t have been able to chase after.”

Timme kept Gonzaga at bay during UCLA’s torrid first half, and Gonzaga’s weak first-half defense tightened in the second, giving them a seven-point lead with 53 seconds remaining.

Jaquez brought the Bruins back in his last collegiate game.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year scored with a three-point play and a layup to make it 74-71 with 45 seconds remaining. Timme then missed two free throws and set up Bailey’s shot.

Luckily for the Zags, Strawther was on track with his long 3-pointer and Campbell missed with his, sending Gonzaga into the Elite Eight for the fifth time under few.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/college/gonzaga-beats-ucla-79-76-in-sweet-16-on-strawthers-shot/281-c69c0193-63dc-4894-ad55-1387d7a9867a Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Strawther’s shot

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing emma@ustimespost.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button