Jalen Suggs Buzzer-Beater Gives Gonzaga OT Win vs. UCLA to Go to NCAA Title Game

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 4, 2021

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) celebrates making the game winning basket against UCLA during overtime in a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gonzaga won 93-90. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs hit a running three-point jumper from just inside half court to give the undefeated Bulldogs a 93-90 overtime win over the UCLA Bruins in the Final Four of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament championship in Indianapolis on Saturday.

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UCLA trailed 90-85 with under a minute remaining, but a Jaime Jaquez Jr. three-pointer and a Johnny Juzang putback off his own miss tied the game at 90 with 3.3 seconds left.

The ball was then inbounded to Suggs, who banked in the game-winner to keep the Bulldogs undefeated. They'll now face Baylor in the national championship game Monday evening.


Notable Performances

UCLA G Johnny Juzang: 29 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals

UCLA G Jaime Jaquez Jr.: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists

UCLA G Tyger Campbell: 17 points, 7 assists

UCLA F Cody Riley: 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists

Gonzaga F Drew Timme: 25 points, 4 rebounds

Gonzaga G Joel Ayayi: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals

Gonzaga G Jalen Suggs: 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals

Gonzaga F Corey Kispert: 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals


Suggs: Legend

The history of the NCAA basketball tournament is littered with buzzer-beaters, but game-winners in the deeper stages of the tournament are fairly rare.

The ones that have gone down are legendary.

UNC's Charlotte Smith and Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale both drilled three-pointers to win the women's titles in 1994 and 2018, respectively.

On the men's side, Villanova's Kris Jenkins drilled a deep three to give Villanova the 2016 crown, and Lorenzo Charles dunked home the winner to give NC State the 1983 men's title over Houston.

Christian Laettner may have the most memorable one of all, as he took a full-court pass from Grant Hill and connected on a turnaround jumper to send Duke into the 1992 Final Four over Kentucky.

Hill was on the call for the UCLA vs. Gonzaga game, and he was witness to another shot that will forever live in basketball history.

Because of it, Suggs has etched his name among the greats, and he even struggled to find the words for what had just happened.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“I can’t put this one into words. Turning dreams into reality.” Jalen Suggs reflects on the Zags' special @marchmadness run https://t.co/0fC8HCuXOH

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports tried to provide historical context for Suggs' shot:

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

Jalen Suggs just drilled a shot just inside half court to seal the game for Gonzaga in overtime. Gonzaga wins 93-90. That's one of the five biggest shots in the history of the NCAA tournament. That had to be more than 35 feet.

Adding to Suggs' legendary night is the fact that he already authored the play of the game (and maybe the tournament) before he even touched the ball following Juzang's game-tying putback.

With the score tied at 77 late in regulation, the 6'4" Suggs blocked the 6'9" Cody Riley's point-blank layup attempt.

The future top-five NBA draft pick then corralled the ball and somehow slid a half-court bounce pass through four UCLA defenders to a cutting Drew Timme, who finished the sequence with a dunk:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

WHAT A SEQUENCE 😱 @ZagMBB #FinalFour https://t.co/lfdsPYiMXh

Far more work needed to be done before Gonzaga could move on to the final, but Suggs made sure the Bulldogs got there.


UCLA, Led by Juzang, Achieves True Greatness

"I sit in Coach Wooden's seat, so when you sit in his seat you have to channel the things that he taught: True greatness is giving your best effort. What else can I ask from those guys?"

That's what UCLA head coach Mick Cronin told CBS Sports' Tracy Wolfson following his team's loss. He referenced the legendary John Wooden, the UCLA coach who won 10 national titles with the school.

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"My message to those guys is to not let that shot ruin what they have done." @tracywolfson speaks with Mick Cronin after a remarkable @UCLAMBB run. https://t.co/xcgM9YbeSr

The No. 11 seed has given a tremendous effort all tournament.

The Bruins needed to win an extra game in the First Four (overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit to win in overtime no less) just to make the round of 64. UCLA also won an overtime game against Alabama in the Sweet 16 and survived No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight, 51-49.

After all that, this is what UCLA was up against going into the Final Four:

Gonzaga entered Saturday averaging 91.6 points per game, the most in Division I men's hoops. Its 54.8 percent field-goal rate was No. 1, and the same went for its 23.1-point scoring margin. The Bulldogs won 29 of their 30 games by 10 or more points, including their last 27.

In addition, Gonzaga entered Saturday with the highest recorded adjusted efficiency margin recorded by KenPom.com (since 2002). The Bulldogs were not only first in offensive efficiency but also fifth on the defensive end.

Naturally, Gonzaga has NBA talent on the roster: Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has Suggs (third overall), Kispert (13th) and Joel Ayayi (39th) going in the first round in his latest 2021 mock draft. That list doesn't include Timme, who scored 25 points and put Gonzaga in position for the Suggs game-winner after scoring six in the extra session.

With all that, UCLA entered the game as a 14.5-point underdog.

So that's a lot. And yet UCLA, led by Juzang, nearly got it done.

It's already been an emotional weekend for Juzang, whose older brother Christian surprised him by coming to Indianapolis on Friday:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

.@JohnnyJuzang's brother flew in from Vietnam to surprise him at the #FinalFour ❤️ (via @UCLAMBB) https://t.co/bc0IQTPAnW

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Johnny Juzang's brother traveled all the way from Vietnam to surprise him during an interview Heartfelt moment ❤️ (via @marchmadness) https://t.co/KnxiB217r1

Christian plays professional basketball in Vietnam, and the two brothers hadn't seen each other for nearly a year.

Juzang entered the Final Four averaging 21.6 points per game in the tournament, including 28 against Michigan and 27 versus BYU.

He carried the UCLA offense Saturday, playing all 45 minutes and scoring 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting. His three-point jumper gave the Bruins a late 77-75 edge, and he also nailed a mid-range jumper to answer Suggs' incredible block and assist to give Gonzaga a 79-77 lead:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

JOHNNY. JUZANG. 🎯 @UCLAMBB #FinalFour https://t.co/212tkbT7he

Juzang looked like he could have had the chance to play the hero in double overtime, but it wasn't meant to be. Still, Juzang and the Bruins received much love on Twitter from ex-Bruins Kevin Love and Troy Aikman, among others:

Kevin Love @kevinlove

Bruins Final Four bound!!! Man Johnny Juzang was great!!! Hell of a fight!!! 🐻🐻🐻

Troy Aikman @TroyAikman

What a game. So proud of both teams tonight. One of those games when there’s not a loser - only a winner. This was college athletics at its finest. Congratulations Coach Cronin and UCLA on one great season! Hats off to Gonzaga.

Ultimately, CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg put it best:

March Madness TV @MarchMadnessTV

"Nobody lost this game. UCLA ran out of time." @ClarkKelloggCBS gives both Gonzaga and UCLA a standing ovation. https://t.co/SkJy9bmBhl

The Bruins may have scored fewer points, but there were no losers. UCLA ultimately achieved that greatness Wooden and Cronin referenced. A moral victory isn't getting the Bruins to the national championship, but they were simply sensational.