MOTSAG Pretend March Madness: Elite Eight (West Region)

With all but eight teams remaining in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the top two seeded teams out west remain in the fight. This has been a long hard road and with both teams overcoming two scrappy teams, do they still have gas remaining in the tank?

In a duel of two great programs, it is just mere minutes away from tip-off. The #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs and the #2 San Diego State Aztecs have locked onto each other in what could shape up to be a heated contest with the last two teams in the west.

Just moments before the tip-off, you can feel the tension and the anticipation in the air. With a trip to the Final Four at stake both teams cautiously approach this contest and we are off! The Aztecs gain control of the opening tip-off and the game gets underway. Malachi Flynn wastes no time and gets the initial bucket off of a hard screen from Wetzell. Not to be outdone, Petrusev penetrates the paint and kicks it out to Woolridge at the top of the key for two.

The opening half said a lot about both teams. Both started on fire until about 8 minutes before the half. After that it was all Gonzaga before going into halftime. At the half the Bulldogs are up 54-47. They rode a 7-0 run before the halftime buzzer and they kept control with pesky defense and well-timed buckets to keep the Aztecs at bay.

During the half, the Aztec coach is livid and gives out one of the most fiery speeches of the tournament and his team responded. Coming out of the locker room, the Aztec’s went 5-6 from three and they gained the lead after some stellar defense of their own. Aztecs lead 66-68 before the Bulldogs call a timeout. The well-timed break led to crucial adjustments on Gonzaga’s end that focused on shutting down and doubling Flynn to get the ball out of his hands.

Initially, it had worked out and it forced the Aztecs into a couple of turnovers and eventually a key backcourt violation. Flynn, visibly flustered called a timeout with 3 minutes left in regulation being down 77-70. In clutch fashion, his coaching staff drew some plays up and they executed it resulting in a 7-0 run to tie the game at 77 a piece. Shell-shocked, Gonzaga calls their last timeout with a little over a minute remaining in the game.

The coach drew up an isolation play to send the Aztecs packing in the waning minutes of the game. With 25 seconds left, Woolridge takes it down to under 10 seconds. He takes a pick from Petrusev, he loses his defender in the process and shoots a two at the top of the key… clang… in and out of the basket. Overtime ball for all the marbles!

From the initial portions of overtime, both teams are exhausted and it shows. Hunched over and visibly tired, both teams set-up for the additional minutes. This time Gonzaga controls the ball first. Petrusev wastes no time and knocks down a three in the face of Flynn to put the Bulldogs up 80-77. Flynn responds with a barrage of buckets–a layup and a three of his own to put the Aztecs up 82-80. Back-and-fourth both teams try to start a run, but focused defense is played on both sides.

The last two minute stretch was crucial and neither team was pulling away. With the game tied, yet again at 91 a piece. Neither team has buckled so far. Both a playing fierce defense and their offensive firepower hasn’t shied away. In the highest scoring game of the tournament, Petrusev takes the ball away from Flynn in the waning seconds and with 5 seconds remaining, he chucks it from half court with a prayer. It comes clean off his hands and it looks like it has a chance. The prayer was answered and he connects with the half-court heave to advance 94-92. Bulldogs advance in a thriller.

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