LAS VEGAS — When he was a standout at Liberty High School, Julian Strawther made a lot of clutch shots.

So with the Gonzaga junior guard — a Las Vegas native — back in his hometown for the Sweet 16, the script was perfect. And Strawther delivered.

His 3-pointer from a few feet past midcourt with 7.2 seconds left gave the Bulldogs a thrilling 79-76 triumph over UCLA on Thursday night in an NCAA West Regional game at T-Mobile Arena.

“It’s moments like that you can’t make up,” said Strawther, who averaged 31.5 points and 11.1 rebounds as a senior at the high school in Henderson. “Those are literally the moments you dream of.

“To even make a shot like that in March Madness and just to be back home in Vegas is like the cherry on top.”

Said Gonzaga standout Drew Timme, who scored a game-high 36 points, of Strawther’s long 3: “I can’t even describe what he did. It’s crazy.”

Strawther sensed he was good on the shot when the ball left his hands. “As soon as it came off, it looked like it was on line,” he said.

UCLA (31-6), the West Region’s No. 2 seed, stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 and took a 76-75 lead on Amari Bailey’s 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left.

The Zags (31-5) brought the ball up the floor and Strawther stepped into a 3-pointer after a drop pass from Hunter Sallis, sending Gonzaga fans to their feet.

After the shot, though, the Zags sweated it out.

Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther only hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.

Campbell’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags rushing off the bench and into the Elite Eight against Connecticut on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Bruins exited the tournament disappointed again.

“Every game, try not to get too high, try not to get too low,” said UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds. “He hit a big shot and we lost.”

Strawther’s shot is the latest chapter in what’s become the best West Coast rivalry in college basketball.

UCLA got the better of the teams’ first NCAA Tournament go-around, rallying from 17 points down to send the Zags out of the 2006 bracket and star Adam Morrison to the floor crying.

Jalen Suggs crushed the Bruins the last time, hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Zags to the 2021 national championship game.

“It’s just like that Jalen shot, man,” said Timme, whose 36 points game him a record of 10 NCAA Tournament games with 20 points or more.

The wild finish started off more like a prize fight, each team taking its turn landing blows in a game of wild swings.

UCLA led by 13 at the half but went on a stretch of 11 minutes without a basket as Gonzaga went up by 10 with 2:40 left. The Bruins took their rally turn and retook the lead, but left Gonzaga with too much time on the clock.

“We should have been tighter on Strawther,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We were the whole game. We just weren’t on that play. If we were tighter then he couldn’t have looped behind.”

Timme kept Gonzaga close during UCLA’s torrid first half and Gonzaga’s porous first-half defense tightened in the second, giving them a seven-point lead with 53 seconds left.

Jaquez brought the Bruins back in his final college game.

The Pac-12 player of the year scored on a three-point play and a layup to cut it 74-71 with 45 seconds left. Timme then missed two free throws, setting up Bailey’s shot.

Thankfully for the Zags, Strawther was on the mark with his long 3-pointer and Campbell was off the mark on his, sending Gonzaga to the Elite Eight for the fifth time under coach Mark Few.