One of the greatest moments in sports archives history occurred in the 2006 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament (March Madness) semi-final round between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the UCLA Bruins.
The 2006 March Madness tournament was an inspiring competition for many reasons. First, the #11 seed George Mason University Patriots had a stupendous run plowing over four consecutive higher seeds which included a thrilling overtime victory against the #1 seed Connecticut Huskies. It was only the second time in tournament history that an 11 seed team made it to the Final Four. Second, a powerhouse Florida Gators team finally stopped George Mason and went on to win it’s first National title ever, beating UCLA 73-57 in the final. Third, UCLA is lucky to have reached the finals as they should have been ousted by Gonzaga in the semi-finals.
UCLA was down by 17 points and Gonzaga was hitting everything. UCLA’s offense was sputtering and it looked like it would be a blow-out. Then suddenly UCLA woke up. The Bruins were sinking everything and playing masterful defense. They chipped away the lead and found themselves down by 1 with 19.7 seconds left in the game. Gonzaga had the inbound, so you know the drill, UCLA would need to foul them, hope they miss and get the ball back. But this was not the case; the ball was inbounded to Adam Morrison who was quickly double-teamed. He’s looking all over for an outlet and your nerves get on edge when he throws a dangerous cross-court pass to J.P. Batista. Now it’s Batista’s turn to look for somebody as he’s not the guy you want dribbling down court for fear of a steal. UCLA senses the indecisiveness and is quick to double-team Batista who has the ball knocked out of his hand from behind his head by UCLA Jordan Farmer. Farmer comes up with ball and finds Luc Richard Mbah a Moute under the hoop for an easy lay-up. The crowd goes wild as suddenly UCLA is up by one and Gonzaga quickly gets the ball past mid-court only to have it stolen from behind again with about 3 seconds left. The rest is history so they say as UCLA goes on to win 73-71.