It was a night to remember for the University of Connecticut as they claimed their fifth men’s basketball national title in a convincing 76-59 victory over San Diego State University. The game, held at the NRG Stadium in Houston, was a testament to UConn’s dominance throughout the tournament, as they won each of their six games by at least ten points.
Senior guard Tristen Newton led the charge for UConn, who poured in 19 points and pulled down ten rebounds in a dazzling display of skill and athleticism. But Adama Sanogo, a junior forward, took home the Most Outstanding Player award for his impressive performances throughout the tournament, including a 17-point, ten-rebound effort in the championship game.
San Diego State had no answer for UConn’s suffocating defense and high-octane offense, as Keshad Johnson’s 14 points topped them. UConn’s closest tournament game came in the national semifinals against the University of Miami, where they pulled out a hard-fought 13-point victory.
After the game, former professional athlete in Track & Field, Von Ware shared, “Obviously they had one hell of a season to make it all the way to the championship game first time in school history they can’t be sad about the end outcome. Of course we wanted to win but in my eyes they are already winners for making it to the championship game. San Diego State has been officially put on the map, and how proud all of San Diego is.”
As for the Aztecs potentially the Pac 12 after the departure of USC & UCLA after next season, “Well, I guess you can say they prove that they could play in the Pac 12 just by making it all the way to the championships so, I would say, if it happens, I think the Aztecs will be fine.”
Though Ware is not an alum, he trained at the University with their coaching staff from 96-98, while his wife was on the Aztec women’s track team and is now part of the San Diego State faculty.
As for UConn, with this win, they join an elite group of only six teams to have won five NCAA men’s basketball championships, alongside the likes of UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Indiana. It’s a remarkable achievement for a program that has only existed since 1901 and has won all of its titles since 1999, with the most recent one before Monday coming in 2014.
The fans in Houston erupted in celebration as UConn players cut down the nets and hoisted the championship trophy, cementing their place in college basketball history. As the players hugged and high-fived each other, it was clear that this team had come together to achieve something extraordinary. For the players, coaches, and fans of the University of Connecticut, it was a night that they will never forget.