THE Baylor Bears notched their first-ever National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball title after they topped the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 86-70, in the championship match on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Jared Butler made four three-pointers and recorded 22 points and seven assists as the Bears turned the Bulldogs’ unbeaten season dream into a nightmare with the wire-to-wire victory.
Butler was named most outstanding player of the Final Four.
Baylor opened the game with a 9-0 run in the first four minutes and never surrendered control from there en route to its national championship conquest.
The Bulldogs tried to rally back from the deep hole they found themselves in, which saw them trail as high as 20 points at a point, but the Bears just would not allow any comeback to happen.
MaCio Teague added 19 points for the Bears (28-2) while Davion Mitchell contributed 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Adam Flagler scored 13 points.
For Gonzaga (31-0), which booked a spot in the Big Dance with a buzzer-beater in the Final Four on Sunday over UCLA, it was Jalen Suggs who led the way with 22 points. Drew Timme and Corey Kispert each had 12 points for the Bulldogs in the loss.
Prior to winning the title, the path for Baylor saw it beat Hartford in the first round, 79-55; Wisconsin, 76-63, in the second round; Villanova, 62-51, in the Sweet 16; Arkansas, 81-72, in the Elite Eight; and Houston, 78-59, in the Final Four. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo