INDIANAPOLIS — For Baylor, the wait was greater than price it.
Four months after seeing COVID-19 cancel their sport with Gonzaga and a yr after watching March Madness fall sufferer to the pandemic, the Bears lastly obtained to make an announcement about simply who was the perfect basketball staff within the nation.
At the tip of Championship Monday, the Lucas Oil Stadium scoreboard learn: Baylor 86, Gonzaga 70.
The Baptist faculty that didn’t enable dancing on campus till 1996 at the moment are the masters of the Big Dance. First music: “One Shining Moment.”
“Our guys have been motivated all year,” Baylor coach Scott Drew stated. “We’re a culture of joy. They came out and fed off each other.”
That legendary 1966 Texas Western staff now has firm, with Baylor turning into the second staff from the Lone Star State to win a males’s title. The Bears are the primary Big 12 staff to take house the championship trophy since Kansas in 2008.
Baylor gamers en masse sprinted to the courtside media desk, stood on prime of it and saluted their fan contingent among the many 8,000 or so within the area.
Coach Scott Drew, who took over a program in basketball purgatory after the homicide of a participant by a teammate and saddled with harsh NCAA penalties, hugged Gonzaga counterpart Mark Few, a detailed buddy.
Green and gold confetti fell onto the court docket.
For the longest time, individuals had questioned Drew’s teaching acumen and his capability to take a staff to the Final Four after regional last losses in 2010 and ’12. This efficiency ought to quiet any remaining critics.
Jared Butler, who was named probably the most excellent participant within the Final Four, led Baylor with 22 factors and 7 assists. MaCio Teague added 19 factors and Davion Mitchell chipped in 15 factors. Adam Flagler scored 13 off the bench. That’s a mixed 69 factors by the guards.
“The better the opponent, the better they play,” Drew stated.
Baylor scored the sport’s first 9 factors and was in management from there. The nation’s finest 3-point taking pictures staff knocked down 10 of 23 3-pointers and outrebounded Gonzaga 38-22.
Freshman standout Jalen Suggs led the Zags with 22 factors regardless of selecting up two early fouls.
Not even Gonzaga, attempting to be the primary undefeated nationwide champion since Bob Knight-coached Indiana in 1976, might match the Bears mixture of athleticism, harassing protection and 3-point taking pictures. Of course, few within the Big 12 might both.
“Listen, Baylor just beat us,” Few stated. “They beat us in every facet of the game and deserve all the credit.”
Baylor (28-2) solely had one sport within the NCAA Tournament nearer than double-figures, and that was a nine-point win over Arkansas within the regional finals. The common margin of victory within the Final Four: 17.5 factors.
Actually, solely the pandemic actually managed to sluggish the Bears down. Baylor went via a 21-day COVID-19 shutdown — together with 18 consecutive days with out even an entire observe — in February. Regaining their mojo was removed from straightforward. Losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State made Baylor appear human, even weak.
By the time the NCAA Tournament arrived, the Bears have been their outdated dominant, scary selves.
If Baylor had any jitters about being in its first NCAA championship in 73 years, they didn’t present. The final time Baylor had gone this far within the match was 1948, and the Bears misplaced to Kentucky within the finals at Madison Square Garden.
“We weren’t alive back then,” Drew joked within the postgame celebration.
The Bears led 11-1 barely 4 minutes into the sport. How dominant has Baylor been? In its 30 video games this season, the Bears had led by at the very least 10 factors in 27 of these. But even by Baylor requirements, that was awfully fast towards the match’s No. 1 total seed that was chasing perfection.
When Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua threw down a dunk eight minutes into the sport, Baylor led 23-8 — and Gonzaga was dealing with its largest deficit of the season.
“They punched us in the mouth, right from the get-go,” Gonzaga ahead Corey Kispert stated.
Baylor led by as many as 19 within the first half, though Gonzaga minimize the halftime margin to 47-37.
Just as they began the sport, the Bears have been spectacular to start the second half. Butler hit two 3-pointers within the first 61 seconds.
“And that’s what we didn’t want him to do. We wanted him to bounce it,” Few stated. “He’s a complete player. And he’s a deadly 3-point shooter.”
After Gonzaga minimize the Baylor margin beneath double figures at 58-49 on a layup by Adam Nembhard, the Bears responded with a 9-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by Flagler.
After beginning his profession at Presbyterian within the Big South Conference, Flagler is among the many transfers that Drew recognized and developed into rotation gamers.
Five of Baylor’s eight rotation gamers have been transfers, together with Butler, Mitchell and Teague.
Drew famous that Baylor has been the perfect staff within the energy conferences the previous two years.
“Our team has been special,” Drew stated.