Gonzaga’s road to championship game included a stop in Sioux Falls

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Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) celebrates making the game winning basket with Joel Ayayi, left, against UCLA during overtime in a men’s Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gonzaga won 93-90. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The NCAA men’s basketball season ends tonight in Indianapolis, where Gonzaga is seeking its first-ever national championship less than four months after playing at the Sanford Pentagon.

Six teams that qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament played at the Sanford Pentagon this season, none more impressive than top-ranked Gonzaga.

“It was awesome to host that team, have them be in Sioux Falls in the Pentagon and now playing on a national stage,” Sanford Sports Vice President of Operations Jesse Smith said.

The Bulldogs beat then number three Iowa, 99-88.

“Watching the way they handled Iowa and just ran away from them and distanced themselves throughout that game, never got rattled even with a freshman point guard, just really, really impressive,” Smith said.

The freshman point guard is Minnesota native Jalen Suggs, who hit the game-winning shot in overtime against UCLA on Saturday.

“There was no hesitation, there was no timeout, the coaches trusted the players on the floor and the result was just incredible,” Smith said.

Gonzaga has opened the season with 31 consecutive wins, including its victory at the Sanford Pentagon. Men’s basketball hasn’t seen an undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1976.

“It takes a special team. They’ve got a great coach and a great mix of players. You can see how well they mix together, how well they play together,” Smith said.

Whatever the outcome of tonight’s championship contest, the Pentagon had a banner year hosting 36 division one games.

“We were able to host the NIT champion this year, we had a women’s team make it to the Final Four, and now the men’s team, not only the Final Four, but to the national championship game,” Smith said.

Gonzaga plays Baylor in tonight’s national championship game.

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