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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

UConn soars past San Diego State to capture fifth national title in program history

UConn students celebrate on the floor of Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT

The University of Connecticut Huskies defeated the San Diego State Aztecs by a score of 76-59 on April 3 to capture the program’s first national title since 2014 and the first under head coach Dan Hurley. 

The Huskies’ 17-point margin of victory is the largest in a national championship game since the University of Nevada at Las Vegas defeated Duke University by a score of 103-73 in 1990. UConn’s total margin of victory over the entire tournament stands at +120, winning each game by an average of 23 points. 

UConn is now 5-0 all-time in national championship games, all coming in 1999 or later. Prior to this championship, UConn basketball teams had not celebrated a national title since 2016, when the women’s squad took home the victory. 

In 2013, UConn left the Big East Conference for the American Athletic Conference. They rejoined the Big East for the 2021 season, which Hurley has called the best conference in the country. 

“It’s achieving, you know, the pinnacle of our profession,” Hurley said on Good Morning America the day after the win. “For us to be as dominant as we were throughout the tournament, and in our style of play and the personalities today, I think people fell in love with our team.” 

Center Adam Sonogo was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, averaging 19.7 points and 10 rebounds per game. His 17 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game were pivotal to the Huskies’ success and dominance of the defensive end of the floor.

Sonogo, along with teammates Hassan Diarra and Samson Johnson, were fasting for Ramadan as practicing Muslims throughout the tournament. Unable to eat from sunup to sundown, the team had meals ready for them to eat as soon as they could. Sunset was just nine minutes before the Huskies’ matchup against Miami in the semifinal. 

“Anything is possible, just be yourself,” said Sonogo to CBS on the celebration stage. 

Standing in the way of the Huskies was #5 San Diego State, who were looking to become the first five seed to win a championship in tournament history. The Aztecs came bursting out of the gates, keeping pace with the heavy favorite Huskies for the majority of the first half. They led the Huskies during a period that lacked scoring for both teams in the early phases of the game, but their lead would be short-lived. 

After trailing for about four minutes, a Sonogo jump shot tied the game, and the Huskies never looked back. The Aztecs were able to keep their deficit within 10 for six minutes. The first half ended 36-24 UConn, with the Huskies benefitting from their defense, which held the Aztecs to an astounding 32% from the field on the night and 26% from beyond the arc. 

UConn was on cruise control for the first portion of the second half, maintaining a double-digit lead over San Diego State. A series of missed offensive opportunities by UConn with about nine minutes remaining allowed the Aztecs to hit key shots. A Darrion Trammell steal and score with 7:41 remaining cut the Aztecs’ deficit to six, with the score being 56-50. The closest they would come to UConn was five points with 5:19 remaining.

As the game winded down, San Diego State missed key free throws as UConn’s historic defense continued to excel, forcing the Aztecs to take poor three-point shots that ended in misses. 

The University of Connecticut campus quickly became the subject of internet frenzy as the celebration began. 15 people were arrested and 16 were sent to the hospital, according to a spokesperson for the university. Videos have surfaced of light posts being torn down and then being used to smash the doors of campus buildings. At least one car belonging to the university was flipped, and trash can fires could be found as well. 

Follow JD on Twitter @jdconte617

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About the Contributor
JD Conte
JD Conte, Sports Editor | he/him
JD is a senior from Wallingford, Conn. double majoring in political science and broadcast journalism. Aside from writing for the journal, JD can often be found in Studio 73 working on his broadcast skills. Off-campus JD can be found watching all the Boston and UCONN sports teams. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends in various spots around the city, especially in East Boston and the North End. After graduation JD hopes to work in a newsroom full-time or pursue a career in the sports industry. Follow JD on Twitter @jdconte617 Email him at [email protected]

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UConn soars past San Diego State to capture fifth national title in program history