The moment you've all been waiting for! The simulated Final Four is here! I did the Duke-Gonzaga game and Mookie from SSR did the Louisville-UConn game.
Here they are! Enjoy!
#4 Gonzaga vs. #2 Duke: A crazy up and down first half has led Duke to a 2-point lead over Gonzaga at halftime in the Final Four. But in the second half, it’s Gonzaga who jumps out to an 11-point lead. Duke won’t go down easy, though, and with 4:06 to go they have tied it at 74. They proceed to make a run and go up 83-77. But wait, the Zags won’t go down. After a 2-1 exchange of free throws in favor of the Bulldogs, GRAY HITS A 3 FOR GONZAGA! AND THEY’RE WITHIN 2 WITH 15 SECONDS LEFT! Henderson is fouled. He makes his first! BUT MISSES THE SECOND! REBOUND GONZAGA! 13 SECONDS LEFT! 3-POINT LEAD! Daye gets the ball AND HE BURIES A 3 TO TIE IT WITH 4 SECONDS LEFT!!! ONIONS!!!!! HENDERSON A CHANCE FOR THE WIN…..OFF THE MARK! WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME!!! 85-85! Gonzaga starts the OT with a 7-0 run! Could it be? Could it be that the Zags are going to a National Championship? Duke is roaring back! Singler hits a 3 and it’s a 4-point game! Gonzaga responds with a basket. It’s Duke’s turn with 1:32 to go trailing by 6 and Williams it’s the perimeter jumper AND-1! The freebie is good. 1:25 to go. Heytvelt misses badly for Gonzaga BUT HE CORRALS HIS OWN REBOUND! The pass is PICKED OFF BY JUKE! CHANCE TO TIE WITH 52 TO GO! NO GOOD! REBOUND GONZAGA! 94-91 THEY LEAD WITH 51 SECONDS LEFT! They let some time run out. Shot clock down to 5 and HEYTVELT HITS A JUMPER!!!! 5-POINT LEAD!! 20 SECONDS LEFT!! IS THAT THE DAGGER?!? DUKE NEEDS A BASKET AND THEY NEED IT IN A HURRY! SINGLER FROM 3……NOOO!!!!! THOMAS THE REBOUND!!! TIME’S TICKING!! THOMAS THE 3…..NOO!!!!! REBOUND GONZAGA AND THERE’S THE BUZZER!!!!! ……………..GONZAGA’S GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!! THEY’VE BEATEN DUKE 96-91 IN OVERTIME!!…UNBELIEVEABLE!! ONIONS!!
#1 UConn vs. #1 Louisville: The rematch between two Big East rivals for the right to face Gonzaga in the title game. Last time these two faced UConn dominated Louisville at Freedom Hall. This time around, Hasheem was held to just 12 points, although he shot 5-7 from the floor. It was a tight first half, neither lteam leading by more than 8. A Kemba Walker shot cut the Cardinals lead to 40-36 at the half. There were 3 lead changes in the 2nd half but the game remained tight. However, Hasheem Thabeet was in foul trouble and couldn’t afford to foul out. Louisville’s bench outscored UConn’s bench 32-22, and it was bench player Edgar Sosa who scored on a layup to give Louisville a 77-76 lead with 2:37 to go. With :14 left and the game in favor of the Cardinals 79-77, Samardo Samuels stepped up to the line for two crucial free throws. Samuels hits the first free throw! If he hits the second then he may have won it!! HE HITS BOTH!! IT IS 81-77!!! LAST CHANCE FOR UCONN!! AUSTRIE FOR THREE!! NO!!! THABEET THE REBOUND!!! THEY’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!! THABEET FOR THREE!!!!! NO!!! REBOUND BY TERRENCE WILLIAMS AND TIME EXPIRES!!!!!!!! LOUISVILLE GETS REVENGE ON UCONN AND ADVANCE TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME TO FACE GONZAGA!!! A THRILLING 81-77 WIN FOR RICK PITINO’S SQUAD!! THERE WILL BE NO THIRD MIRACLE FOR THE HUSKIES!!!
And now the national championship game, courtesy of Mookie from SSR.
Gonzaga’s road to the national championship game was a shocker. They plowed through Akron but won a nailbiter over Illinois 70-67. North Carolina proved to be no match for the Zags and they lost 83-69 in the Sweet 16. They beat Cinderella team Clemson in the regional final to advance to the Final Four, where they beat Duke in OT 96-91. A lot of close games, but these Bulldogs have been through it all.
Louisville on the other hand breezed to the Final Four. Blowout wins over Morehead State and Siena, followed by a late run to beat Wake Forest, culminating in another blowout over West Virginia in the regional final. Samardo Samuels hit two huge free throws in their national semifinal win over UConn, 81-77.
Many matchups to look forward to. How will the Cardinals stop Jeremy Pargo? Will the Zags have the size to compete for rebounds underneath and be physical? They’ve been called “soft” by most critics, but they’ve gotten this far.
Finally, Rick Pitino and Mark Few, two of the best coaches in the game today, face off for the first time in their illustrious careers.
AND WE ARE UNDERWAY IN DETROIT!!
From the opening tip it was a fast paced game with very few stoppages. However, it would be Gonzaga that went ahead by double digits on a Josh Heytfelt bucket with 6:46 left. The deficit for Louisville was 10, their biggest in the entire tournament. The Cardinals would close out the half outscoring the Zags 11-6 to close the gap to 36-31 at halftime. Both teams shooting very well from the field, and they would continue that throughout the game.
A key moment in the 2nd half came at the 11:15 mark. Will Foster tied the game at 47-47 for Gonzaga, but moments later Louisville’s Terrence Jennings was fouled by Austin Daye. That was Daye’s 4th personal foul already and had to be careful. Amazingly, Mark Few took the gamble and kept him on the floor until the 9:22 mark, when Matt Boulding came in. The fouls kept piling up for Gonzaga and Heytfelt picked up his 4th foul with 1:50 to go! Earl Clark hit both free throws and Louisville was up 75-72. With :58 left, the fun began…
DAYE!!! HITS THE SHOT FROM THE PERIMETER!!! GONZAGA LEADS 76-75!!!! AT THE OTHER END!!!!!!! ANDRE MCGEE FOR THREE!!!!!!!!!! OH YES!!! LOUISVILLE LEADS WITH :47 LEFT!!! DAYE FOR GONZAGA!!! NO!!!! STEVEN GRAY THE REBOUND AND THEY HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE!!! AN ILLEGAL SCREEN CALLED ON DAYE!!!!!!! HE HAS FOULED OUT WITH :21 LEFT!!! UNBELIEVABLE!! TIMEOUT CALLED!!!!
JENNINGS IS FOULED BY HEYTFELT!!! HE HAS FOULED OUT!!! GONZAGA LOSING PLAYERS LEFT AND RIGHT!!! Jennings hits both free throws!! It’s 80-76! BOULDIN FOR THREE!! NO GOOD!!! THE TIP BY FOSTER!! 80-78 WITH :13 TO GO!!!! MCGEE IS FOULED!!!
FIRST FREE THROW…..NO GOOD!!! But he HITS THE 2ND! TIME WINDING DOWN!!! IRA BROWN FOR THE TIE!!!!!!!!!!! HE HITS IT!!!! TIED AT 81-81!!!! JUST 2 TICKS ON THE CLOCK!!! THE INBOUNDS PASS IS KNOCKED AWAY!!! OVERTIME!!!!!!!!
Amazginly, with an extra 5 minutes the game was tight enough and free flowing there were no fouls called. Earl Clark tied the game at 90-90 with :37 left. Last chance to win it in the first OT….
HERE IS MICAH DOWNS FOR THE LEAD!!! NO!!!! TERRENCE WILLIAMS THE REBOUND!!! TIMEOUT LOUISVILLE TO SET UP A PLAY!!! HERE IS THE PASS!!! WILLIAMS IS LEFT OPEN FOR THE TITLE!!!!!!!!!!! NO GOOD!!!!!! DOUBLE OVERTIME!!!!!! WHAT A GAME!!! SIMPLY SUBLIME!!!!
With 1:41 left in the 2nd OT, Foster was called for a charge and became the 3rd player to foul out for Gonzaga. Moments later…..
JERRY SMITH FOR THREE! SCORES!!!! 104-98 LOUISVILLE WITH 1:27 LEFT!!!! GONZAGA IN NO HURRY!!! BROWN FOR A THREE OF HIS OWN!!!!!!!!!! GOT IT!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!
After a Williams shot for Louisville went off the mark, Gonzaga had one last chance….
TIME TICKING DOWN!!! PARGO THE SENIOR FOR THE TIE!!!! NO!!! REBOUND SAMUEL WITH :08 LEFT! THEY GET IT TO CLARK!! HE IS FOULED WITH :04 LEFT!!!! IF HE HITS BOTH FREE THROWS IT IS OVER!!! HITS THE FIRST!!!!! AND THE SECOND!!! LOUISVILLE IS GOING TO WIN IT!!!
BOULDIN FIRES A THREE AND IT IS NO GOOD!!!!!!! BUZZER SOUNDS!!!! AFTER A 23 YEAR WAIT….THE LOUISVILLE CARDINALS ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS OF 2009!!! A 106-101 DOUBLE OVERTIME CLASSIC!!! GONZAGA LEAVE STUNNED!!! RICK PITINO HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!
Earl Clark was named Most Outstanding Player, and he was outstanding in this game, scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and 4 assists, and hit the winning free throws for the Cardinals.
In the end, Gonzaga had their key players foul out, Louisville did not have any player hit the 5 foul limit. Gonzaga’s depth was tested and they did well, only to fall short.