This time of year is the absolute worst for collegiate athletics fans (except for the diehards who actually tune in to baseball and softball…ick and looking at you, Jonathan) as there’s no football or basketball or even volleyball to keep us entertained. I’m the biggest fan of those previously mentioned sports so when there’s nothing to watch besides the ones my dad attends alone so he can nap, I’m pretty disgruntled. Almost summer time is also boring because This Is Noelle is primarily a sports and social justice blog and without the first of those two topics, I run out of content quickly! There isn’t much news around the Baylor Athletics front at the moment, so I wanted to remember that wonderful time two months ago when the Baylor Men’s Basketball team won their first ever national championship! Only two months ago Baylor students, employees, and fans were expectedly at our happiest in a couple years and the high has only slowly started to wear off from that victory. The Bears lost essential athletes Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague (not yet including Matthew Mayer) to the 2021 NBA Draft within the past two months, but they also gained transfers James Akinjo and Dale Bonner to fill in those slots. Since we’re at a loss for sports news out of Waco, here’s a refresher from that night two months ago when everything was exciting and unbelievable!
They did it!!! The No. 1 Baylor Men’s Basketball team overcame all odds to defeat undefeated overall No. 1 Gonzaga, 86-70, and snap the Bulldogs’ 35-game winning streak as they won their first ever NCAA National Championship title in program history! Yesterday I wrote about the Bears’ convincing win over No. 2 Houston in their first Final Four round since 1950, but today’s dominant rout of Gonzaga felt even more thrilling in the Bears’ first National Championship appearance since their 58-42 loss to Kentucky in the 1948 matchup. Baylor grew increasingly confident after every game (the difference between their performances against No. 5 Villanova and No. 1 Gonzaga in the title game is evident) and today’s solid victory showed the whole country how terrifyingly talented and fast the Bears are, even against the scariest opponent and the best team in KenPom rankings ever. Just like that of their competitions against No. 3 Arkansas and No. 2 Houston, Baylor started hot and kept a large lead through the entirety of the game. Within the first few minutes of the first half, Baylor took a double digit lead that was only decreased to 9 points at the closest and remained over 10 for most of the game. Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa) writes, “In a matchup of arguably the best two backcourts in the country – and teams, for that matter – Baylor’s quartet of [junior G Jared] Butler, [sophomore G Adam] Flagler, [junior G] Davion Mitchell and [senior G] MaCio Teague were at their best in the biggest moment. They combined for 69 points, hitting 10-of-20 from 3-point range and 14-of-15 from the line.” The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball with Butler hitting his stride and refusing to miss his field goals. In the title game, Butler had 22 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists, becoming the first player with at least 20 points and 7 assists in a national title game since Carmelo Anthony in 2003 at Syracuse. He shot 42.8% (6-14) of his field goals, 44.4% (4-9) of 3s, and 100% (6-6) of free throws. Teague added 19 points and 2 rebounds; Mitchell had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists; and Flagler notched 13 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists with 50% (3-6) of his field goals, 75% (3-4) of 3s, and 100% (4-4) of free throws. The team had a phenomenal first half shooting 50% (19-38) of their field goals, 58.33% (7-12) of 3s, and 100% (2-2) of free throws. After a not-so-hot second half, the Bears defeated the Bulldogs by shooting in total 44.8% (30-67) of their field goals, 43.5% (10-23) of 3s, and 88.9% (16-18) of free throws. They never lost their lead ever and made 19 points off of Gonzaga’s turnovers as opposed to the Bulldogs’ 9. Baylor’s bench was phenomenal today and scored 21 points whereas the Bulldogs only made 7. The Bulldogs tried to fight back throughout the entirety of the game, but Baylor was faster, more accurate, and communicative than the country’s undefeated (prior to today) jewel. 18 years ago Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said he came to Waco to build a program that would win NCAA tournament games and national titles. And today he fulfilled his goal! Congratulations Bears!!!