The outcome was settled well before the scoreboard read 86-70 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In fact, it was clear in the opening four minutes, which nearly passed before Gonzaga scored even a point. By then, Baylor had 9 — an offensive onslaught that ultimately intensified and had Baylor with a 20-point advantage midway through the second half.
Just two nights before the title showdown, Gonzaga had prevailed in one of the most sensational games in the history of the N.C.A.A.’s men’s tournament, a 93-90 thriller against U.C.L.A. But on Monday, the Bears openly overpowered the Bulldogs, who started to rally a modest defense once they switched to zone.
It was still far too much.
Baylor seized rebounds. Especially early, it seemed to score on command and control the game’s flow and capitalize on one turnover after the next by Gonzaga, which entered Monday night hoping to become the first men’s Division I team since 1976 to cap an undefeated campaign with a national title.
There were moments when Gonzaga seemed to inch back into the game. In the second half, for instance, the Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 9. Two layups, two free-throws, a 3-pointer and 94 seconds later, the Baylor lead had vaulted to 16.
Baylor’s shooting was imperfect — indeed, Gonzaga made a greater share of its shots. But it spread its scoring around. Jared Butler, a junior guard, led Baylor with 22 points, his record for this year’s tournament. MaCio Teague added 19 of his own. Baylor had…