The Gonzaga Bulldogs came from 13 down at halftime, and Julian Strawther’s three-pointer with six seconds remaining was the difference as the No. 3 Zags defeated the No. 2 UCLA Bruins 79-76 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Drew Timme was simple incredible with 38 points and 13 rebounds, but missed two free throws with 33 seconds remaining and the Zags leading 75-73. That allowed the Bruins to run a set, which found Amari Bailey on the wing for the wide-open three-pointer he nailed to make it 76-75 with 14 seconds to play.
AMARI BAILEY CLUTCH ❄️— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 24, 2023
UCLA LEADS WITH 12.2 REMAINING!!#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/ixcoWc11hx
Following a Bruins timeout, the Zags found Julian Strawther at the top of the key for a shot that will live in Zags lore forever. From the logo.
Julian Strawther! What. A. Shot‼️— Josh Berrian (@_joshonair) March 24, 2023
Not again @UCLA ♂️ #MarchMadness | #GoZags
A turnover by the Bruins Tyger Campbell seemed to seal it, but then he ended up drawing iron on a shot from near half-court to send the game to overtime.
“There’s so much fight in this team, so many people were writing us off,” said Strawther, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “I’m just so proud of the guys, of how they responded.”
“We just got back up and kept fighting. No one gave us a hand out, we had to get up ourselves,” said Timme about the Zags season so far. “I am the No. 1 Julian Strawther fan on the planet. No one is a bigger fan of him than me.”
Following some early-season struggles and being “only” 19-5 on February 4, Gonzaga has now won 12 straight. “We just wanted to get the ball to Julian, if he could go downhill it was fine,” said Zags head coach Mark Few. “But I knew if he sized up one of those threes - we work on that in practice all the time - and he usually makes that shot.”
It is heartbreak for the Bruins, whose curse of Las Vegas continues: They have yet to win a Pac-12 Tournament here under Mick Cronin, and now this makes it worse.
Next up for the Bulldogs are the No. 4 UConn Huskies, with Connecticut opening as a 1.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. Tip-off is set for 8:47 p.m. ET on Saturday from Las Vegas.