Gonzaga left Lucas Oil Stadium elated on Saturday night, after Jalen Suggs’ overtime buzzer-beater lifted the Bulldogs into the national title game. Meanwhile, Mick Cronin’s UCLA team exited the arena deflated.
The No. 11 Bruins put up a fight against the best team in the nation, pushing the Bulldogs to the brink. However, the program’s Cinderella run from the First Four to the Final Four came to an abrupt end in a matter of just 3.3 seconds.
UCLA entered Saturday’s contest as 14.5-point underdogs, with most analysts and fans giving them no chance to upset Gonzaga. The Bruins proved those doubters wrong, as they had all tournament, and ended up getting the respect of most of the college basketball world, including their usual rivals.
The USC men’s basketball program took to social media on Saturday night to congratulate their Pac-12 foe on an incredible effort against Gonzaga.
@UCLAMBB We were planning on trolling you when you lost, but don’t have the heart for it after that.
Helluva game. 👏 pic.twitter.com/mxg4b9g863
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) April 4, 2021
It’s a classy move from USC, who also fell out of the NCAA Tournament against Gonzaga. Just last week, in the Elite 8, the Trojans lost 85-66 against the powerhouse Bulldogs.
Despite not getting a team into the championship game, the Pac-12 exceeded expectations in this year’s tournament. UCLA was the sole team in the Final Four, but USC and Oregon State made the Elite 8 and Oregon slid into the Sweet 16. The conference was largely overlooked throughout the year, but showed out when it mattered the most.
Thanks to the performance from the Bruins, Saturday night’s game between Gonzaga and UCLA won’t be forgotten anytime soon.