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caption: Gonzaga forward Drew Timme loses control of the ball ahead of Baylor guard Mark Vital, rear, during the second half of the championship game in the men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
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Gonzaga forward Drew Timme loses control of the ball ahead of Baylor guard Mark Vital, rear, during the second half of the championship game in the men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Gonzaga falls short of perfect season with men's NCAA championship loss to Baylor

The magic ran out Monday night for the Gonzaga men’s basketball team.

The Bulldogs lost to the Baylor Bears, 86-70, in the NCAA championship game in Indianapolis. It was Gonzaga’s first loss after 31 wins.

Baylor was the aggressor early on in the game, quickly amassing a nine-nothing lead and going up by as many as 19 points in the first half. Gonzaga pecked away and cut the lead to 10 at halftime.

Baylor’s hot shooting and stifling defense continued in the second half. Gonzaga made another run to pull within nine at 58-49. But Baylor scored the next four and the threat was over.

After the game, Gonzaga Coach Mark Few praised Baylor and his team for navigating an unusual season.

“I just marvel at everything they had to deal with this year," Few said. "Our isolation every time we were on the road. All the Covid protocols and the changes and not being able to practice and practice and sitting out for 14 days, yet they always had just an amazing attitude and positivity about them that’s just, you can’t thank them enough.”

The Zags could lose a significant number of players. Senior Corey Kispert will graduate and move on to the National Basketball Association. He could be followed by underclassmen Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme, among others.

The Zags may have missed out on their piece of history. But Few praised the team's tenacity in an unusual season.

"You know, you make it this far and you're 31 and 0 going into the last one, the last 40 minutes of the season, there's absolutely nothing you should ever feel bad about," he said after the game. "They'll look back on this season, as time passes, as amazing and incredible. But again, hats off to Baylor. They dominated us on both sides of the ball."

And Suggs will certainly be remembered for his part in the team's glory while it lasted — he sunk the buzzer-beater shot that took his team to the final game.

While Gonzaga's season may have been just nearly perfect, that three-pointer by Suggs was absolute perfection.

"He's a winner, and he lost for the first time," Few said of Suggs, who was visibly disappointed by the loss as he embraced his teammates after the final buzzer sounded. "As time goes by, he'll gain better perspective on what an incredible impact he had on his team and, heck, on college basketball."