On Monday night, No. 4 University of Connecticut (UConn) and No. 5 San Diego State University (SDSU) took to the stage in the fight for the National Championship. UConn came away with the trophy, winning 76-59, continuing their streak of winning every game in the tournament by double-digits. The Huskies arguably made one of the most dominant NCAA Tournament runs in college basketball history.
Even with the loss, credit has to be given to SDSU as they had reached the championship after Lamont Butler’s buzzer-beater helped cap one of the largest comebacks in tournament history, defeating Florida Atlantic University 72-71.
Until now, SDSU had never even played for a national title. Although they put up a fighting battle against UConn, their magic had run out. At one point in the first half, SDSU missed 14 straight shots and was down 36-24 at halftime. The Aztecs did not stop fighting and pulled it within four during the second half.
According to the numbers, it seemed obvious that UConn was going to win it all, but it was a matter of them actually pulling it off. The Huskies controlled the game and remained unbothered by SDSU’s tough defense, and every time it got close, they nailed the important shot. This performance was just an addition to what UConn has done throughout the tournament.
UConn could not have done it without their star player, Adama Sanogo, who has now cemented himself as a legend, with the National Championship to prove it. In the tournament, he averaged 20 points per game, 12 rebounds per game and made 50 of the 75 shots he took. Rightfully so, Sanogo was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
The win also had much significance to the UConn program and its coach. The last time UConn won the men’s basketball national title was in 2014, but since then they have been pushed to the side. Since bringing in head coach Dan Hurley and rebuilding, UConn basketball is back. They are a dominant program and arguing to make a case for their own title as a “blue blood.”
For Hurley, it documents a big moment of personal achievement after coming from a family of basketball royalty, and always feeling like a struggle to be on the same level as his dad’s (Bob Hurley; St. Anthony High School Coach) and brother’s greatness (Bobby Hurley; legendary Duke point guard). Now, he joins them both in winning a championship.
The Huskies are now 5-0 in National Championship games, and their five titles are the most for any Division I program since 1999. Hurley becomes the third coach in program history to win a National Championship, joining Kevin Ollie and Jim Calhoun.
As “One Shining Moment” played and the confetti rained down, UConn fans and past players were in the crowd cheering on their team. Kemba Walker, an old UConn great, greeted the players as they walked off the make-shift stage after the ceremony. The nets were cut, hugs were exchanged and the celebrating continued. This year’s March Madness has concluded as being one for the books.
Featured photo courtesy of @uconnmbb, Instagram