Blythe Hastings ’23
Game Time Stats:
San Diego State finally makes its run, trailing 58-50 with 6:58 left: For the first time all tournament, UConn might finally be feeling the pressure, and the San Diego State fans are making noise. Trailing by as many as 16, the Aztecs cut it to single digits. Both Lamont Butler, the semifinal hero against FAU, and Keshad Johnson connected on 3-point shots.
UConn maintains an edge, leading 49-36 with 11:56 to go: The Aztecs are running out of time for another comeback. The second half has turned into a foul game, as the two teams have combined for only five made field goals, but UConn has totaled eight three throws to help keep San Diego State away as Sanogo and Newton are up to 13 points apiece. The Aztecs are shooting just 27.5 percent tonight and will need to catch fire soon.
UConn leads San Diego State 36-24 at the half: The Aztecs will need another strong second half to cut down the nets. San Diego State is here after it rallied from 14 down to FAU on Saturday, but it’ll need to make it a 16-point comeback to win tonight. After that 11-minute stretch without a field goal, the Aztecs fans finally got back into the game to close the half.
UConn rolling, up 36-20 with 2:55 remaining in the half:The Huskies are making San Diego State look like its last five NCAA tournament opponents. The Aztecs went 11 minutes without a field goal to fall behind as UConn continued its tournament dominance. UConn has done its part on the offensive end, too. The Huskies are shooting 62.5 percent, with Tristen Newton’s 9 working with Sanogo’s 7 and Jordan Hawkins’ 7.
UConn leads 14-10 with 11 minutes left in the first half: The Huskies trailed for a bit in this one—more than they had in the last three games combined—but UConn has since made it back in front to return to its familiar spot on the scoreboard. San Diego State made its first three shots and led for 4:35 of game time, but UConn’s bigs have dominated inside. The Aztecs have missed eight in a row to fall behind, though it’s still very early. UConn is firing at 63.6 percent from the floor, with turnovers remaining the only issue thus far. Adama Sanogo has six points on three shots.
A tournament run full of dominance ends with another UConn national title in Texas. UConn held off a small second-half push from San Diego State to win championship No. 5, this time a 76-59 win. It’s not only the Huskies’ fifth title since 1999, it’s their second in Houston and fourth in Texas. The Huskies’ most recent title was a six-game coronation with double-digit victories, as the Huskies (31-8) won by an average of 20 points. In the latest win, Tristen Newton (19 points), tournament MOP Adama Sanogo (17) and Jordan Hawkins (16) led the way offensively against San Diego State, while UConn frustrated the Aztecs around the rim for much of the night. San Diego State (32-7) shot just 32.2 percent and trailed by as many as 16, but it had climbed tall mountains before. In their last three games, the Aztecs trailed No. 1 overall Alabama by 9, Creighton by 8 and FAU by 14 in the semifinals, and won them all. Though UConn ended up being too tall a challenge, the Aztecs were the only team to mount a late threat, cutting the deficit to 60-55 with only 5:19 to work with. Then Hawkins shut the door immediately with a clutch 3-pointer. San Diego State never got closer. The win makes UConn only the second No. 4 seed to win it all, joining 1997 Arizona. It also halted what would have been a series of firsts with San Diego State. In their first Final Four appearance, the Aztecs fell one game shy of winning their first title, of becoming the first Mountain West team to win it all and being the first No. 5 seed to take home the crown. Keshad Johnson, Lamont Butler—the buzzer-beating hero against FAU—and Darrion Trammell all finished within double figures, but the Aztecs slumped through an 11-minute stretch without a field goal in the first half and fell short of a huge rally in the second. In the end, UConn won another championship and became one of only six programs to reach that mark.
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